A PIONEERING service aimed at giving the public more say in the way health care is developed will be discussed by health professionals this week.

Aims and objectives of The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (Pals), a key element in the modernisation of the NHS, will be examined at a meeting of the Darlington Primary Care Trust, on January 9. It is expected that board members will approve the proposals.

For the past year, Darlington has been a pilot area for the service. Pals staff, whose role will be to help patients, have been appointed at all levels of the health service from doctors' surgeries and hospitals to the ambulance service and the primary care trust. The scheme aims to advise patients, their families and carers but it will not be a complaints service.

The manager of Pals will be located in the community health council offices at Maude Street and the public will be able to access the scheme via a freephone number. People will also be able to contact the service via their GP. A scheme worker will be in each doctors' practice in the primary care trust area.