Patients’ champ chosen to help give them a voice

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PATIENTS are being told they have a new way to get their voices heard on local health issues.

Retired GP Keith Barnard has been appointed as the patients’ champion by Fareham and Gosport clinical commissioning group (CCG).

The CCGs will replace primary care trusts as the main commissioner of health services for their local populations from April next year.

The CCG has a £218m budget to cover acute hospitals, community services and prescribing services for the 200,000-strong population.

Dr Barnard’s new role is as lay member for patient and public involvement in the CCG.

The 70-year-old worked at Fareham Health Centre for 24 years, was already chair of both the Fareham Centre Practice patient participation group (PPG) and the Fareham locality PPG.

He said: ‘I tried to champion patients’ causes when I was a working GP with issues such as waiting times so this has always been an issue close to my heart.

‘Now I’m a patient myself – and I want to do everything I can to represent patients’ views vigorously.

‘Consulting with patients, and ensuring their views are heard, is a statutory function of the CCG and it’s exciting to be involved in an emerging organisation at this early stage.

‘Everyone is learning, including me. But a major part of my role is to ensure that the mechanisms are in place for patients and the public to be involved in the decisions which affect them.

‘If a change is planned to a local service, we want to involve people in these decisions, We can ask them, do you think this is a good idea? And if not, what would you change, or what’s wrong?

‘We want the patients to feel that they have a voice.’

Dr David Chilvers, chairman of the CCG, said: ‘Keith’s appointment is a vital one. His main role is to champion patient and public involvement, ensuring that patients’ views are heard and acted on.

‘He is ideally placed for this role on so many levels – but particularly as a former GP himself, so he understands how we work, and obviously his patient participation role and contacts in Fareham has already given him excellent experience in this field.’