Published: 29/07/2004, Volume II4, No. 5916 Page 8 9

The chair of the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health has attacked the government's decision to abolish the body just five months after its official launch.

Speaking exclusively to HSJ, Sharon Grant disputed claims by junior health minister Lord Warner that 70 per cent of its resources were being spent centrally - leaving little cash for the front line.

Announcing the body's abolition, Lord Warner revealed that out of a total budget of£33m, CPPIH spent£23m on operating costs.He said the amount going to the front line was 'inadequate' in relation to the cash invested in headquarters and regional offices.

But Ms Grant said Lord Warner's figures only refer to the organisation's first year of operation, which included setting up from scratch, creating forums and recruiting forum members.

CPPIH claims that this year 80 per cent of its budget is going directly to supporting forum activity.

Ms Grant criticised the government for coming to its decision without consulting CPPIH or the patient body: 'There has been no consultation with anyone about these proposals - either with the commission, the 600 patient forums, or with the large number of patient and consumer organisations that fought so hard to set up the new system.'

She added: 'Instead, we have a set of proposals that I believe will seriously weaken the patient's voice. They make little sense if there is a genuine commitment to bringing the public into health, and to achieving the culture change which is essential to addressing the nation's health problems for the future.'

Lord Warner dismissed CPPIH's claims that the government was betraying its promises to provide an independent voice for patients and the public in health.

He said: 'We are not reneging in any way whatsoever on patients' forums. Quite the reverse.We are trying to transfer resources to the support of patients forums.'