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LINks

nickh

nickh

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Thought I would start a new thread dedicated to LINk's so people can post their own local experiences.

I have just been to the last formal meeting of my PPIF (and my first one :rolleyes:) where a lot of the discussion was naturally about the transition to LINks. Apparently in my area (Birmingham) the council is getting £500,000 for its LINk, but they still haven't decided who is going to be the facilitator - there are 24 applicants or something like that - so no LINk will be established until the 1st October. In the meantime the organisation which has facilitated the PPIF has been asked to maintain a sort of 'interim PPIF'.

Basically the whole thing appears to be a bit of a shambles :).

But the people at the meeting (all much more experienced than me) seemed to think that there were possible advantages to the LINk, in that their remit would be far wider than the PPIFs - ie: they would cover MHTs, PCTs and the council , where PPIFs where restricted to the MHT.

I learnt quite a lot anyway - as a newcomer to all this it is a lot to get ones head around.

(I hope all the acronyms in this are covered in the jargon buster thread but I haven't checked).

Nick.
 
nickh

nickh

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More Info

Picked up some more info on LINks at a meeting today.

One Government web-site is at....

http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Managingyourorganisation/PatientAndPublicinvolvement/DH_076366

From this you can click on a link (sorry :)) which gives you a contact point for every Council in England which will have a LINk. I would suggest if you have heard nothing about the LINk for your area that you get in touch with the person mentioned and ask them what they are doing about the representation and involvement of Mental Health Service Users.

Nick.
 
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nickh

nickh

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Just wondering if anyone has any local experiences to report? In Birmingham we are still waiting for the Host Organisation to be appointed but there are various transition bodies including one for Mental Health and Learning Disabilities which is just starting to assemble a work-plan, and a Steering Group which is trying to keep an overall eye on things.

One important point I have discovered is the money Central Govt. has assigned to each Council is NOT ring-fenced so it will be worth keeping an eye on how your Council is spending the money.

Nick.
 
S

Starbright

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I don't know what LINks are. Never heard of them. Otherwise I would have joined in. Sorry. But I am reading what you've written.
 
S

Starbright

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Why do people keep lumping mental health in with learning disabilities? Any one can get mentally ill, not just people struggling intellectually. It makes me stressed and cross.
 
honeyquince

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Hi Nick,

Never heard of them - so thankyou for drawing our attention to them. Thanks also for the link. I shall have a look and as you say maybe drop them a line to see what's going on locally. (y) I'll let you know if I get anywhere with it.
 
nickh

nickh

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Starbright...first what LINks are (and I had never heard of them a few months and guess the vast majority of people won't right now). It stands for Local Involvement Networks. The official (Department of Health) version of what they do is as follows....

>>Local Involvement Networks (LINks) aim to give citizens a stronger voice in how their health and social care services are delivered. Run by local individuals and groups and independently supported - the role of LINks is to find out what people want, monitor local services and to use their powers to them account. LINks will be established in most areas between April 2008 and September 2008. Each local authority (that provides social services) has been given funding and is under a legal duty to make contractual arrangements that enable LINk activities to take place.<<

So every Council (with the relevant authority) has to set up a LINks. The first step in doing this is by selecting a 'host' organisation who will provide the administrative backup etc. - these will be voluntary sector/charitable organisations.

From a MH SU point of view the concern is that MH issues will drowned out altogether because LINks will have to cover all aspects of Health and Social care and mh is often the poor relation.

(Incidentally you can find out exactly what money your council is getting for its LINk at http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Managingyourorganisation/PatientAndPublicinvolvement/DH_076366?IdcService=GET_FILE&dID=155818&Rendition=Web).

As far as the 'lumping together' goes that is purely something which is happening temporarily in Birmingham; I can understand what you say but actually I am finding it very interesting indeed to listen to the issues. And not all people with learning disabilities struggle intellectually - there are people from the dyslexia association on our LINk and they are very sharp intellectually :).

Great if you do pursue it honeyquince. The LINks are meant to be as open, inclusive and public as possible so people should be hearing about them!!:)

Nick.
 
honeyquince

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I asked some of the staff from our resource centrer wether they had come across it. None of them had but all of them saw it as another waste of resources that would be better spent on services!
 
nickh

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:) in a way I'm not surprised honeyquince, though it makes me a little :( to find these attitudes still prevalent (even though I expect them if you see what I mean!). The whole principle of SUI is not one that has universal acceptance. Does Selby come under North Yorkshire Council?

Nick.
 
honeyquince

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Hi Nick,

On one of your links Selby was showing up as an independant council as if it would have it's own Link thingy but then on the link for financing the only thing I could find was North Yorkshire I think. we certainly come under the York / North Yorks PCT so it will probably go through them - though York has one of these unitary Authorities... hmmm - confusion reigns! I might try Selby District Council first and see if they know anything about it.
 
nickh

nickh

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nickh

nickh

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Update

I missed a whole load of LINks stuff in Birmingham while I was ill including the appointment of a controversial Host Body called Gateway Family Services. I am now trying to fight for Mental Health Service Users to have a proper voice on the Birmingham LINks.

Once again I do urge people to try and get involved with their Local LINks and speak up - they are an important mechanism for SUs to try and influence policy and practice.

I have come across an organisation called the National Association of LINks members which seems to be trying to ensure that LINks are democratic and accountable - their (limited) web-site is at....

http://www.networks.nhs.uk/networks/page/1177

I would be very interested to hear of anyone else's experience with their local LINks.

Nick.
 
nickh

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LINks problems

The National Association of LINks Members (NALM) has put together a report and press release on how LINks are working nationally - not terribly well :rolleyes:

Here's the Press Release....

>>NALM exposes major problems in development of new care monitoring system

A study by a national patients’ organisation has revealed major problems with the Government’s the new system to monitor health and social care.

LINks – ‘Local Involvement Networks’ replaced Patient’s Forum on April 1st 2008 as the public’s voice on health and social care. They monitor care from the patient’s perspective and are funded through local authorities.

The Report reveals the government has broken its promise that monitoring of hospitals, clinics and care services would continue after the abolition of Forums, and that activities during the transitional period have been bureaucratic - not patient-centred - leaving patients with no independent voice.

Highly experienced would-be LINk members have drifted away during transition, because the local focus on patient care was lost. Many volunteers could only continue monitoring activities out of their own pocket and received no expenses – leaving the unwaged, the chronic sick and other and vulnerable people excluded.

NALM discovered that some local authorities retained large fees from tiny LINks budgets to cover their own costs. Haringey took £64,900 from a 3-year budget of £514k, Sefton £52,934 out of £513K and North Yorks, £68k from a budget of £660k.

The decision by Government and Audit Commission not to audit the establishment of LINks also causes NALM concern. “There is neither the intention nor any mechanism for the DH to monitor the finances and development of the LINks system”, says NALM Chair, Malcolm Alexander

NALM believes it’s a scandal that Government won’t provide LINKs members with state-backed indemnity against injury or being sued for making public statements, which NHS or local authorities hold is against their interests. Indemnity is essential to ensure effectiveness and independence of LINks volunteers.

Malcolm Alexander, Chair of NALM said; “over six months of inactivity in patient involvement across the country, has left patients more vulnerable and weakened public influence in service modernisation and improvement. We now need assurances that the Government will provide:


Urgent support, training and resources to support people to join LINKs in every part of the country and reactivate public monitoring of hospitals, clinics and care services.
Guarantee that people joining LINks will be paid expenses for participation in monitoring activities of health and social care retroactive to April 1st 2008.
Incentives for local authorities to return their excessive fees to LINKs for the use of LINks members for NHS monitoring activities.
Commitment to monitor the development of LINks and the use of finances intended for LINks in liaison with the Audit Commission.
A guarantee to provide of state-backed indemnity for all LINks members


Background

1) The NALM report examines the progress made in the development of LINks in the period April 1st 2008 – August 8th 2008. LINks replaced Patient Forums on April 1st 2008 and are now the main statutory vehicle for the public to influence policy and practice in health and social care in England. The report is based on Freedom of Information Act questions put to all 152 LAs in England with social services’ responsibilities.

2) The study examined:

· The way funding for LINKs has been used so far by Local Authorities

· The contractual relationship with the LINks support organisation – the Host.

· Current state of development of the LINks and readiness for action

· The effectiveness of transitional arrangements which the government promised would provide for an effective transition from Forums to LINks



3) NALM is an independent organisation formed on April 1st 2008 and is lay membership based. It is a registered company with wholly charitable aims and an unregistered charity.



4) In March 2009, NALM will hold its first AGM and elections for Steering Group members to represent each Region in the country.


More information:



Chair of NALM: Malcolm Alexander, 30 Portland Rise, London, N4 2PP

Email: [email protected]





Vice Chair of NALM: Ruth Marsden, The Hollies, George St, Cottingham, East Yorkshire HU16 5QP

Email: [email protected]



The aims of NALM are to:



Provide a national voice for LINKs’ members;
Promote public involvement that leads to real change and the ability to influence key decisions about how care services are planned and run;
Promote the capacity and effectiveness of LINks’ members to monitor and influence services at a local, regional and national level and to give people a genuine voice in their health and social care services;
Support the capacity of communities to be involved and engage in consultations about changes to services, influence key decisions about health and social services and hold those services to account;
Support the involvement of people whose voices are not currently being heard;
Promote open and transparent communication between communities across the country and the health service;
Promote accountability in the NHS and social care to patients and the public <<

I have a full copy of the report and if anyone is interested could email it to them.

In Brum I am just trying to ensure that MH is kept on the agenda and MH SUs represented.

Nick.
 
D

Dollit

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LINks Bristol

I have met this morning with a colleague who works in some of the local partnerships and the Manager and her Local Development Officer from our local LINks which is citywide.

We have worked with them to provide contacts within the agencies and within local groups and associations in order that people in Bristol have a good chance of being heard when they do want to speak and how we can link together most effectively.

Membership of LINks in Bristol is either as an individual or through a group and they will facilitate the formation of groups either as one off experiences or as ongoing experiences.

The fact that they are coming into the community and talking to those of us who can provide them with good contacts and therefore improve the experience for everyone bodes well.

I quoted the fact that we have a jargon buster thread here and they think that may be a good idea on their website - MHF influences people positively. When they get up and running a little more I'll let you know how it's going.
 
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nickh

nickh

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Thanks Dollit - it is good to hear that things are proceeding in such a positive way in Bristol.

Nick.
 
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