Trio’s date with health minister

Left to right are Helen Smith, Julia Smith and Brian Devine, with Professor Gyles Glover (at back) outside the Houses of Parliament.
Left to right are Helen Smith, Julia Smith and Brian Devine, with Professor Gyles Glover (at back) outside the Houses of Parliament.

THREE people with learning difficulties met a health minister to discuss issues that affect them.

Brian Devine, Julia Smith and Helen Smith took their ideas on health service reforms to the heart of Government when they met up with Health minister Andrew Lansley.

The trio, who are all members of the People’s Parliament in County Durham, gave Mr Lansley their suggestions for improving services for people with learning difficulties.

Brian, from Peterlee, Julia, from Sedgefield and Helen, from Newton Aycliffe, were invited to visit the Department of Health, in London, as part of an initiative to involve the public in changes to the NHS.

They were accompanied by Professor Gyles Glover, of the NHS North East Quality Observatory, who worked with them to submit their ideas for more effective monitoring of services for people with learning disabilities.

Brian Smith, Durham County Council People’s Parliament project officer, who also took part in the visit, said: “Our group was one of only three singled out for praise by the minister.

“It was a real privilege for us to be invited, particularly as the minister took time out to speak to the People’s Parliament members and ask them questions about their suggestions.”

The trio also had tea with Baroness Hollins at the House of Lords, where they discussed their thoughts on the Health Bill.

The People’s Parliament has 25 members, all of whom have a learning disability.

Members hold regular meetings and events to promote disability issues both locally, regionally and nationally.