Involve North East (formerly Community Action on Health) was founded in the mid 1990s following the creation of fund holding powers for GPs. The Government wanted to give GPs more control over how money was spent, so that they could respond more accurately to patients' needs.

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A group of visionary GPs in the West End of Newcastle, aware of the great responsibility placed upon them with these new powers, wanted to understand more about the needs and views of local people. They realised that simply buying clinical services for patients would not address the wider environmental conditions that many people were living in.

The GPs recognised that the local community having a voice was not only useful in making sure that health services were planned more effectively around peoples' needs, but was an essential function in closing the "democratic deficit" in the NHS.

As GPs worked more collaboratively in Primary Care Groups, and PCGs became Primary Care Trusts (PCT), the concept of patient and public involvement began to gain credibility nationally. Community Action on Health gave evidence to a parliamentary enquiry into the benefits of involvement, and in 2001 the concept was enshrined in legislation as Section 11 of the Health and Social Care Act. For the first time, this made involving patients and the public a statutory duty for the NHS. Community Action on Health – by now firmly established as a citywide charity, and employing six members of staff – entered into a partnership agreement with Newcastle PCT to continue the dialogue with local people and feed their views back into the NHS through a community development model.

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The legislative framework continued to develop and the NHS Reform Act 2002 replaced Community Health Councils with Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Forums. Community Action on Health worked alongside the PPI Forums in Newcastle until their abolition. Section 242 of the Health Act 2006 further strengthened the concept of patient, carer and public involvement. We continued to develop our work, recognising that communities are not static but change over time. We developed our activities, employing a wider range of skills and techniques for gathering people's views. We also developed online services, including a Resource Bank of previous consultation reports and a Health Signpost Directory of health-related groups and activities. Throughout this time we worked closely with Newcastle PCT to ensure the views of local people were fed into, and reflected in, their plans for service delivery.

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As our work developed and our services expanded throughout the whole of the North East, in May 2012 we changed our name to Involve North East.We specialise in patient, carer and public involvement but our support for local communities includes projects that deliver training and direct support to enable people to understand, influence and get the most from the healthcare services they need.

As the NHS landscape has changed, we have continued to work closely with Practice-Based Commissioning Groups and latterly Clinical Commissioning Groups. More recently the emergence of Primary Care Networks (PCN) has provided new opportunities and platforms for engaging the public, giving voice to seldom heard groups and putting local people at the heart of the healthcare services they receive. Along with promoting and supporting the health and wellbeing of the people of North east England, this is at the heart of our charitable aims and objects.