Letters

We read with interest the letters about the abolition of CHCs (pages 24-25, 17 August).

An important point not picked up is the potential damage to public confidence which may be caused by the way this part of the NHS plan has been handled.

Members of the public and local voluntary organisations are asking, quite understandably, why they are not being consulted if the intention is to 'strengthen' the voice of patients and public.

They are also asking what it says about how patients and the public will be consulted in future if they are not allowed any say in whether they can retain their CHC, or other ways they may want their voice strengthened Whether or not the new proposals actually add up to a strengthening or a weakening of the patient/public voice, they are unlikely, on the basis of feedback we are getting, to have the confidence of the people whose voice they purport to strengthen if those very people are not allowed a say.

In Croydon, as in most of the country, the CHC seems to enjoy the confidence of the local community as well as the local health economy.

The least people are entitled to expect is a consultation on whether something they value highly should be abolished in favour of new, untested initiatives.

A consultation exercise is perfectly feasible without holding up the rest of the plan.

Because of the successful track record of the CHC and the partnerships we have been an important part of between the NHS, local authority and voluntary sector, we feel we can provide a model of a way forward that may be of use nationally.

But we would have preferred to be offering patients and the public a genuine say in how they want their voice represented.

Ethel Dixon, Jim Martin, Joint vice-chairs Croydon CHC