£450k announced to help patients have their say on health services

A windfall of £450,000 to support practical and innovative ways to help patients improve health services has been announced.

The Building Health Partnerships programme has been awarded the money from NHS England and the National Lottery – through the Big Lottery Fund.

The funding will provide tailored support for co-production to 10 areas, helping to more easily involve patients and carers in designing the services they use.

For example, previous support helped launch a new programme in Essex to get early diagnosis for people with lung diseases.

The funding will also support leadership training and develop a ‘champions’ network’ where community representatives and commissioners can share the best ways to ensure communities and patients are at the heart of Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships’ (STP) and Integrated Care Systems’ (ICS) plans.

To date, the Building Health Partnerships programme, delivered by the Institute of Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) and Social Enterprise UK (SEUK), has helped communities to bring together patients with local, voluntary, community and social enterprise groups.

This has included:

The 10 areas receiving the support will take part across two cohorts, and the first five STP/ICS areas will be:

  • Frimley Health and Care
  • Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria
  • North Cumbria
  • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
  • West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership

These STPs will bring local groups and key decision makers together to put patients at the heart of decision-making, being supported by a series of externally facilitated sessions.

Eight areas received this package of support last year.

Mid and South Essex STP, one of the first areas to benefit, is already showing the value of local collaboration:

  • The partnership procured lung testing equipment to take into the community and, by approaching people at events and clinics, they identified early indicators of respiratory illness in 20% of those tested.
  • Early diagnosis can help prevent flare-ups and stop or slow deterioration of the lungs which can lead to breathlessness and limited mobility.
  • The partnership is also supporting a new “Breathe Easy” group where those with respiratory and lung conditions can get support and advice on treatment, ask questions, access support and take part in social activities.

Michael MacDonnell, Director of System Transformation at NHS England, said: “It’s important we work as closely as we can with a variety of community groups to ensure we get the richest input into designing services. The voices and views of a range of people from different backgrounds and circumstances can really make a difference to the solutions we find.”

Gemma Bull, Director at the Big Lottery Fund, said: “People with real experience of living with health conditions have the insight into what support is needed. We’re pleased that National Lottery funding will be used to bring people and communities together with healthcare professionals to design services that really work for them.”