Several members of the patient and public involvement group for Staffordshire have been summoned to investigatory hearings about their conduct. It comes amid rifts between members over the way it should be run.
Campaigners said the cases showed that problems with the organisation of the Staffordshire local involvement network were continuing more than three months after the Mid Staffordshire foundation trust care standards scandal was exposed.
One member of the network claimed the local involvement network is dominated by its host organisation, Staffordshire University, and members who want to stop concerns being raised about NHS services.
HSJ was told some members were asked to attend hearings after visiting the university premises. Another is said to have called for a vote of no confidence in the network’s elected leaders at a meeting.
Network host director Linda Seru confirmed that two members had been asked to attend a hearing because they were accused of breaking its code of conduct.
Another six members had been asked to attend meetings to discuss allegations relating to what Ms Seru called “a duty of care to staff”, she said.
She said it had been more difficult to run than networks for other areas because of its size.
The network is in discussions about getting more resources from its contractor Staffordshire county council.
However, Ms Seru said: “In my experience the people who complain the most are the people who don’t take advantage [of events organised by the network to plan its work].
“There have been lots of opportunities. My question to [critical members] would be, ‘What particular problem have you had?’
“Some have struggled [to understand] they have a constitution that requires decisions to be endorsed by the elected board.”
Ms Seru said the network was not being “driven” by the host but by its elected board.
Stafford MP David Kidney (Lab), who has raised concerns about the network’s problems, said he thought it suffered from a lack of national guidance.
In April a report by national clinical director for primary care David Colin-Thomé said poor patient engagement was “the key” to why its problems went unnoticed for so long.
Department of Health officials have since visited the Staffordshire network to investigate concerns campaigners and Mr Kidney have raised.