Published: 27/05/2004, Volume II4, No. 5907 Page 22

As forum support manager for eight patient and public involvement forums in the North of Tyne region, I am replying to the letter from Nick Forbes (pages 22-23, 29 April).

My organisation shares some of Mr Forbes' reservations about the bidding process, but that is now in the past.As a matter of accuracy, only a handful of community health council members joined PPI forums in the North of Tyne region. I can assure Mr Forbes that to date none of them have resigned; they all bring with them valuable experience.

The majority of forum members are new to health; they have come with enthusiasm and drive, but, inevitably, are on a steep learning curve and feel it would be foolhardy to rush into projects before they are familiar with the health landscape.

All of our forums have had at least one public meeting and some have had several. Information about meetings has been sent to the local press, and interested members of the public have been added to distribution lists.

In respect of engaging with marginalised communities, many of the forum members have their own substantial networks and are already working within them, but obviously a lot more work still has to be done.We certainly recognise the importance of being inclusive, and organisations like Community Action on Health are vital to this sort of engagement.

Astrid Adams Forum support manager North of Tyne Patients'Voice