The head of new health watchdog LINk has hit back at claims Hounslow patients' health is suffering due to a shake-up in the way services are scrutinised.
Health campaigners last week expressed grave concerns about Hounslow's Local Involvement Network (LINk), which was set up eight months ago to inspect the way facilities across the borough are run.
They claimed managers had dragged their feet appointing members of the public to its 'steering group', leaving patients without an independent voice for too long.
But Nick Westbrook, chairman of Hounslow's LINk, insisted the new arrangement benefited patients by ensuring they could no longer fall into the cracks between different providers.
"People in Hounslow may access health and social services from a range of different organisations," he said. "Often the problems they experience fall (in the crossover) between those providers."
Mr Westbrook added that the new set-up gave more people from a wider range of groups and backgrounds the chance to have their say on medical facilities in Hounslow.
LINks were introduced across the country last year to oversee the way all health and social service facilities are managed within different boroughs.
In Hounslow, they replaced three Patient & Public Involvement Forums (PPIF) scrutinising the West Middlesex Hospital, Hounslow PCT (now NHS Hounslow) and West London Mental Health Trust.
John Murphy, former vice-chairman of Hounslow PCT PPIF, told the Chronicle last week how he felt managers of Hounslow LINk had wasted the experience and passion of ex-forum members by 'excluding' them from the new group.
However, Mr Westbrook said several members of the old forums were already on board and nearly 100 people had already registered with the organisation.
"The new LINks are very different to the previous forum arrangements and a lot of old PPIF members are finding it difficult to adjust," he added. "But the LINk's doing exactly what it's required to do, which is to reflect people's views and make sure they're being listened to, and we very much welcome as many people as possible to get involved."
Elections for Hounslow LINk's steering group are due to take place later this month. For more about the organisation, and how to get involved, call 0845 601 5849 (0845 094 9459 for those without English as a first language) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org