COUNCILLORS investigating the working of the NHS will hear an address from a double bypass patient today.

Two years ago, Peter Szymik helped launch a national scheme to speed up hospital treatment for heart disease sufferers.

Mr Szymik became one of the first patients at South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust to opt for early treatment at another hospital, the Washington Hospital, on Wearside.

His decision was part of a fast-track scheme introduced by then Health Secretary Alan Milburn, MP for Darlington.

Mr Szymik, who waited 11 months for his operation, will talk about his treatment at a meeting of the Tees Valley Health Scrutiny Panel, in Middlesbrough.

The panel has been set up examine the way the health service operates and is currently carrying out an in-depth study of health services in the Tees Valley.

Panel chairman Middlesbrough councillor Eddie Dryden said: "The Government has given councils the jobs of scrutinising the health service.

"In many ways, we are a bridge between the service and members of the public, asking questions they would ask and putting forward the views of our constituents to the health professionals.

"We are very keen to get local people involved in the work of the panel and would welcome their views.

"We think it is very important to get the patients' perspective on issues, so that is why we have asked Peter to come along and tell us about his experiences."

The panel meets in public at Middlesbrough Teaching and Learning Centre (formerly St Anthony's School), Trainer Avenue, at 9.30am.