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Connect speaks at Downing Street

15 April 2011

Connect's Chief Executive, Mike Forster, was invited to 10 Downing Street this week by the Health Secretary and the Prime Minister as part of a listening initiative concerning recent proposed changes in the NHS.

Mike Forster addresses the round table gathering at 10 Downing Street.

Connect was chosen as one of the representatives of the charity sector because of our innovation work with peer-led services and our high reputation for involving people with aphasia in developing services. Our ethos fits with the aims of the new Health and Social Care Bill which aims to make the NHS more patient and outcomes focused.

Listen to concerns

The Downing Street forum was part of a programme of activities by the Health Secretary and the Prime Minister to listen to the concerns of patient representatives, clinicians, health experts and third sector leaders about planned NHS reforms.

At the event, jointly hosted by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, Mike Forster was one of three charities asked to give a specific account of the innovative work they are doing.

Focus on the person

Mike was able to explain that Connect aimed to enable people with aphasia to ‘re-connect’ with life and to become ‘active citizens’. He emphasised our focus on the person, not the medical condition and stressed the importance of authentic user-involvement which recognises that the patient is the expert in their condition.  He welcomed the rising prominence of the voluntary sector but stressed this will only work well with substantial funding.

After the meeting, Mike said ‘This was a great opportunity for Connect. We were not only able to demonstrate how Connect makes a difference, but to offer the perspective of the voluntary sector at the highest level. We look forward to contributing more to this listening initiative in the coming weeks.’

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