A response to her report (below) to the Board meeting of Wednesday 24th January which appears like an attempt to crush debate before it begins, is expressed below her report) by an email of complaint from Paul Brian Tovey and it was copied to the PPI .
Dr Lynne Jones M.P. was also informed about matters and UserWatch hears the Non Execeutives have been approached with a view to rebalancing the views that have come out in that report .
User Voice comprises of 14 part-time workers and many sessional volunteers who have personal experience of mental ill health. Their role is to work at arm’s length within our Trust’s services with service users, focussing on the following issues:
to develop and enhance group advocacy and consultative processes across the Trust
to develop and enhance service user involvement processes on a day-to-day basis
to work with Trust managers and clinicians in eliciting and understanding service user experiences and feedback of Trust services
to work with Trust managers and clinicians in developing policy, action plans, and service improvements.
Evaluations of User Voice by both service users and Trust staff have been consistently good over the past three years; indeed complaints were received during the first year of the Trust’s operation because the number of User Voice workers at that time was insufficient to provide coverage across the whole Trust.
In December 2006, I received a letter which I originally believed to be from our local Public and Patient Involvement Forum requesting that User Voice be disbanded, and that a fully independent service user advocacy/involvement organisation be established in its place. This request referred to a petition which they had organised in support. I have now clarified that the letter and petition is from a small, independent group which some Forum members attend.
I have arranged to meet with the PPI Forum to discuss this further and propose to take the following stance:
User Voice is a Trust initiative and an important part of our operational governance processes.
User Voice concentrates on issues arising within the Trust and does not purport to be representative of wider community issues, or broader “service user” issues.
The Government proposes to redesign existing Public and Patient Involvement Forums. Specifically to affiliate the reformed function to Local Authority and align these to Primary Care Trusts in relation to their commissioning responsibilities, thereby increasing their ‘independence’ of provider organisations, thereby creating broader perspective.
Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust supports further investment in service user involvement organisations and strategies. An independently-run User Council (external to our Trust) may be an appropriate development to pursue. However, any such proposals should be in addition to our own very effective User Voice, and not instead of it.
I strongly recommend that our existing internal User Voice be retained (indeed developed further), and would be grateful for the Board’s endorsement of the above.
The Email response to her reads :
Dear Sue ,
I refer to the language in your proposed CEO Jan 2007 report to the Board immediately underneath this email . I really must complain about it and ask that you re-balance matters by allowing reasonable process to take place.
The 123 signatured dual issue petition re: User Voice Independence (and the need for a patient constituency) was signed by both members of the public and patients and the majority of the PPI forum members and it is not intended nor has used the language that attempts to "disband" User Voice .
That sentiment is panicky and innaccurate .
Your CEO report is actually precipitate too because I have attended the last PPI meeting and the PPI forum are working on a way to retain User Voice functions whilst creating a realisable financial model for it to be managed by itself independently , using direct sources of PCT finance whilst being more independent of the Trust's senior management
It is eminently possible for an Independent User Voice as above to exist . A successful model like this exists in Derby (namely Derby Voice ) and it has the advantage of being more independent and stronger in its voice because it is not captured in a conflict of loyalty position by being in the pay of the Trust. It is not possible to work "arms length" as you put it, and be paid by the Trust . That is a contradiction in terms .
I will urge Board members to wait to see what the PPI forum proposes in the future .
I really must complain about your precipitate attitude here ..
I will copy the PPI into this email and others .
Paul Brian Tovey ..