Published: 20/06/2002, Volume II2, No.5810 Page 25

Patient involvement is not such a bleak picture as painted by Fiona Whittaker (first person, 30 May). The patient experience forum at Portsmouth Hospitals has enjoyed the support of the trust and was singled out as good practice by the latest Commission for Health Improvement visit.

We meet in pleasant rooms and refreshment is provided. At each meeting we have informative talk on a subject of our choice for members of the trust board/clinicians and nurses. We also visit areas of the hospital and talk to staff.

The forum has been involved in many projects, working with staff, and has been allocated funds to award to staff to undertake improvements for patient care. This project is in partnership with the trust clinical governance department, and the clinical governance awards were presented this year by a chief executive of the National Patient Safety Agency.

The trust recently set up a lunchtime meeting, at our request, to discuss the hospital sterilisation disinfection unit, which had received adverse media coverage.

Our questions were answered in a frank manner and we have been invited to visit the unit to see improvements and attend a thank-you lunch for staff.

Soon we will have a joint awayday with the community health council, so we can learn from each other, and work together and move forward. The proposed loss of CHCs can be compensated for by members of local trust forums, who work within and with trusts, and will not be manipulated.

Julia Massey Honorary secretary Patient experience forum Portsmouth Hospitals trust