This is a personal blog by Rod Whiteley about the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, and more specifically in the county of Gloucestershire and surrounding areas.

In July 2010 the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, presented a white paper (a policy document) to Parliament: Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS The white paper set out plans for fundamental changes to the way the NHS is managed, with the intention of giving more say to professionals, patients and local people, while cutting back on management costs and political interference.

Page 8 explains the government’s vision:

Our vision for the NHS
1.10 We can foresee a better NHS that:

• Gives citizens a greater say in how the NHS is run

Coincidentally, I attended a public meeting at around the same time. The meeting was part of a consultation to involve local people in decisions made by a local NHS trust. For the first time, I had a glimpse of the complicated tangle of organisations that work together to provide health care under the NHS brand.

Over the next few weeks I investigated some of these organisations, and I joined some of the ones that I could join as a member of the public. This blog will be a record of what happens as I try to get involved and become part of the “enhanced local voice” that the white paper envisages (Figure 1 on page 20).

The geographical focus of my involvement is in Gloucestershire, where I live, and in the nearby county of Worcestershire, and also to a lesser extent in the other neighbouring counties of Warwickshire and Oxfordshire.

The focus of my interest is mental health, partly because my late father was a consultant psychiatrist, both in the NHS and in private practice, and partly because my partner, Louise Ritson, is a psychotherapist, formerly in the NHS and now in private practice.


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