LETTERS

I enjoyed reading the entertaining and informative account of the background to Shifting the Balance by Laura Donnelly ('Picking up the pieces', pages 11-12, 2 August).

Unfortunately, the only part I have any personal experience or knowledge of emerged somewhat garbled in the telling.

I refer to the mention of 'a promise of a feasibility study by organisations including the Association of Community Health Councils for England and Wales on the creation of a national patient body'. Such a study was undertaken earlier this year. ACHCEW was not included in the steering group for it. It was represented, on the advisory panel only, by me.

The published version of Shifting the Balance recognises that the study has taken place already. However, it appears to attribute a much greater role to ACHCEW and individual CHCs in its preparation than the record justifies. It implies ACHCEW was represented on the steering group for the study alongside the College of Health, the Patients Forum and the Long Term Medical Conditions Alliance.

This was not the case. My understanding is that the final Department of Health policy was that we should be excluded.

It suggests also that individual CHCs contributed to the study.

This is true only to the extent that some responded to the rapid consultation exercise undertaken by the two consultants running the scoping study.

At one level it is flattering that the DoH appears to have assumed that I, the sole and marginal representative of ACHCEW, had so much influence over the scoping study on a national body for patients that I must have been a member of the steering group.

At another, it is worrying that such an obvious error of fact has crept into an official document.

I have written to Nigel Crisp drawing his attention to this.

Donald Roy Vice-chair, ACHCEW