Every patient has the potential to be a moderniser

Delegates to Health and Care Innovation Expo joined a panel discussion looking at how patients can become more involved in decisions about their care.

‘What should be the role of citizens and patients in our health and care system?’ saw four experts reviewing why we look to NHS staff to drive innovation rather than using the extraordinary resource of patients and public.

Tal Golesworthy, a patient who repaired his own heart, spoke about his extraordinary journey in setting up the Personalised External Aortic Root Support (PEARS) project. He spoke about how his fears of a major and intrusive operation helped him seek out an alternative and innovative approach. This included setting up a multidisciplinary project team to successfully manage the operation – a surgical procedure that has been successfully repeated 41 times. This kind of innovation can save considerable amounts of money and lives, said Tal.

There needs to be an expectation that the patient voice will be heard, said Giles Wilmore, Director of Patient and Public Voice and Information, NHS England. Don Redding, Director of Policy at National Voices, added that patients aren’t just people who lie flat in a hospital gown; they have a lifetime of experience that healthcare professionals should listen to. Patients with long term conditions are making decisions about their treatment and health on a daily basis and it is key, explained Don, that people are able to make their own decisions about their own care.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, National Medical Director for NHS England, added that patient involvement shouldn’t be exclusive to large, complex technical projects. He spoke about an example of setting up a suggestion box on a ward. This helped capture patient concerns and challenged preconceptions as to what clinicians thought was good care.