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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 107

Date:- 12 July 2003

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ADOPTED and fostered children within Liverpool will become the first in the world to be able to use the internet to find out about their past.

Video clips from birth parents, social worker, teachers and people who knew will be part of a record and website known as Lifecard, which gives access to orphaned children as they were as babies and young children with vital vaccination records along with their family tree.

The 'Lifecard' website will also have an interactive diary page, which is updated every time a child logs on, and information about why children are fostered and adopted - Although some records will be denied access till the child reaches the age of eighteen to respect the birth parents wishes of abstaining contact till that age is reached.

Retired Liverpool circuit judge Peter Urquart also agreed to feature on a video clip. He was involved in adoption proceedings first as a solicitor and then family court judge for more than 20 years, and said he thought it was important that children understood how the court worked.

This is the first time this information has been publicly available to fostered and adopted children in this way, thanks to a partnership between Liverpool City Council and MediaCDCards Limited.

Anne Reid, 21, - who also was a fostered child born in Liverpool, has acted as a consultant on the project, along with other adopters and foster carers. She said she wanted to get involved because it is vital children know as much as possible about their past, "I've been lucky," she said. "My mum has always been open with me and told me what she knows of me when I was a baby, but not everyone has this. There is so much that people want to know - your childhood is part of who you are. To have something like this, with all this information safely stored until you want to get hold if it is invaluable."

Liverpool City Council executive member for health and social care Dr Jeremy Chowings said:- "The really new thing about the Lifecard is it is a permanent record which can never be destroyed. In the past, life stories have been in scrapbooks or even on CD Roms, but of course these can be lost. 

We know that sometimes youngsters are angry at birth parents, and may have been through very difficult times, and will destroy the scrap book or photos in it themselves. With this they can wipe out the entire file - but it will be there again when they wish to come back to it again."

Liverpool City Council and MediaCDCards collaborated on a CD Rom for young people leaving care last year, which provoked enquiries from scores of leaving care teams across the country. More information about Lifecard can be found at 

Report with thanks to Liverpool City Council.

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Everyone needs good PALS!

A friend in need is a friend indeed - as patients and their families across Southport and West Lancashire have all to often become familiar with this adage, which is why they are benefiting from PALS.

PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service), a new NHS initiative which aims to give improved rights and more choices to patients, was set up by Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, Southport and Formby Primary Care Trust and West Lancashire PCT in April 2002, to provide on-the-spot confidential help, advice and support to patients, relatives and carers.

Despite a recent report by the Association of Community Health Councils for England and Wales, which claim PALS are failing patients across the country, the picture at Southport and Ormskirk tells a different story.

Since its inception in April 2002, the feedback about the service has been very positive - both from the Trust's customers and from members of staff.

Patients and their families are enjoying the benefits of the project because it is giving them "a voice" and more involvement in bringing about change. 

Alison Gordon, PALS Manager at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, said:- "We have had a very positive response, not just from patients and their families, but from the staff as well. It is really rewarding to be able to help people at what can be quite a stressful time!

In addition to the staff, we have excellent teams of volunteers on both sites who we really couldn't manage without. I think we have been really fortunate to be able to attract the right people to the service as they can make such a difference."

Last year 249 people contacted PALS, more than half the inquiries (58%) have come through the helpline and 20% were made at PALS desks in the main receptions of the two hospitals.

An analysis of the PALS workload shows that 75% of queries relate to hospital services, and 25% to primary care services, such as doctors, dentists and pharmacies.

Gill Hemmings, PALS Manager at West Lancashire PCT, added, "People appreciate the help they receive. No one has had any bad comments to make about PALS. The positive comments we get are a fantastic compliment to the team."


THE Southport Reporter editorial team would like to take this opportunity to wish Laura Hamilton all the best for her achievement in gaining her Media and Communications degree for a new and prosperous future. We offer her a warm welcome as one of our new journalists as part of an already outstanding team at Editorial. A friend said "Don't fall down this weekend... We are still celebrating.... Well done Laura." Her Mother and the rest of Peter Browns Estate Agents also say "Well done!"

Southport Reporter is a registered Trade Mark.   Copyright © Patrick Trollope 2003.