LATE last year a patients' parliament set up by Healthlink reported that only 15 of the 30-plus London local authorities had responded to a query about progress in setting up the new LINks structures that were supposed to monitor the NHS since March last year.
Only two reported any actual monitoring activity going on.
Needless to say, Hounslow was not in the group that replied, far less in the tinygroup that were actually doing anything useful.
For those not in the know, Healthlink was set up by a lawyer who used to work for the old Association of Community Health Councils when these were abolished around 2001.
Her aim was to try to keep the spirit of objective scrutiny alive in the NHS despite the Government's best efforts to abolish this.
The Community Health Councils were replaced rather slowly by Patient and Public Involvement forums, which were abolished in March 2008.
They were supposed to be immediately replaced by LINks but you need much better detective powers than me to detect anything happening with LINks almost a year later. I am afraid that I am not at all sure what 'LINks' means but it does suggest a place to play golf.
With virtually no monitoring of the NHS happening for a year, I was not surprised to read in The Telegraph on January 6 this year that deaths caused by hospital mistakes have increased by 60 per cent in twoyears.
NHS records show that 3,645 people died from such mistakes last year, a rise of 1,370 compared to twoyears ago.
The real picture is probably much worse as not all such accidents are recorded.
It seems you are now more likely to die due to an accident in a hospital than in a road traffic accident.
With all this going on all our local LINks organisation can do is to fumble, forming 'steering committees' and holding cosy little meetings with the NHS management that is responsible for this slaughter.
The only purpose such a 'steering committee' could serve would be to block the investigation of anything that really needed investigating.
I just have to wonder how much worse all this will get before somebody wakes up and starts trying to improve things.
Meanwhile the deaths caused by failings in the NHS will probably continue to increase.
JOHN C MURPHY Camrose Avenue, Feltham.