Very interesting feedback from grassroots activists at Balham Park Surgery Patient Liaison Group (BPSPLG) at their March meeting. This is the oldest and best resourced patient participation group in Wandsworth. But the meeting reinforced our view that even where the surgery are supportive (there is a GP at every meeting, the Practice Manager is actively involved, a member of the admin staff takes minutes and provides refreshments) it is a real uphill struggle for patients and staff to keep up with all of the changes that are being proposed for the NHS. It feels a bit like abseiling into the unknown!
Of the twenty or so regular patient members who attend meetings, about five are actively involved in other borough-wide health meetings such as the Wandle Local Commissioning Group Board and its Patient Consultative Group. And yet when the BPSPLG members asked questions about the forth coming re organisation of the NHS around GP led commissioning no-one knew the answers to many of the questions. Members apologised saying “I’m sure this is a stupid question….” or ” I must be an idiot to ask but….”. I had to reassure them that they were asking just the right questions but the problem was NO-ONE knows all the answers, not even the Government!
It is very hard to see how patients, even the most committed, will be able to keep up with the changes and make a contribution to the new commissioning processes that are being created. We take the view that “nothing about me without me” works both at an individual level and a group level, so that it becomes “no commissioning about me without me”. But putting that into practice so that involvement makes an impact on what happens in a patient consultation and in consortium commissioning is going to be a very, very tough task. Individual surgeries, GP Consortia, even the leading Pathfinders and their supportive PCTs are going to need a lot of help to create practical ways in which patients can make an effective contribution.
We support equipping lay people with the right professional skills to level up the playing field so that decisions can really be shared with clinicians and managers. That’s part of helping health and care organisations to be responsive to their users and think about them as customers – and it’s MAC’s reason d’etre.
The Moore Adamson Craig Partnership supports user and public participation, trains lay representatives and develops responsive health, care and education organisations. We are ready to work with and support all those who want to make sense and a success of the new structures of patient and public engagement within the new arrangements for health and social care commissioning and providing. Feel free to contact us to discuss the opportunities.