It is pleasing to see a call for more to be done in the way of providing training for patient representatives, but Charlotte Williamson's feature ('Coming on strong', pages 26-27, 16 November) could have been more thorough.

Impact was designed in 1998-99 to assist lay people and professionals to work together to use evidence and influence decisions. Nine two-day Impact workshops have been delivered and many more are planned. The evaluation to date has shown a significant increase in participants' confidence, including in gathering and appraising evidence, presenting a case and understanding how change happens. It is ideally suited to equipping patient representatives and health professionals to work as equals.

Impact was originally developed from collaboration between the critical appraisal skills programme (CASP), Voices and Elisabeth Buggins with funding from Oxfordshire health authority's patient partnership strategy. The public health resource unit (which includes CASP) was awarded beacon status in 1999 for dissemination for programmes such as Impact.

Training in patient representation and involvement, including Impact workshops, is co-ordinated by Sally Crowe (project manager, public health resource unit in Oxford). Phone 01865-226669 or go to http://www.public-health.org.uk/casp/impact1.htm.

Agnes Hibbert Head of education Public health resource unit Elisabeth Buggins Patient and public involvement specialist CASP Oxford