Genuinely putting people at the heart of health

NHS England’s Director of Patient & Public Voice and Insight and its Empowering Patients & Communities Strategy Lead share a key milestone for the Realising the Value programme:

The NHS Five Year Forward View sets out a clear vision for health and care services to work in partnership with people and communities to fully realise their value and potential at the heart of health.

It makes a specific commitment to do more to support people to manage their own health and care and signals the need to “invest significantly in evidence-based approaches such as group-based education for people with specific conditions and self-management educational courses, as well as encouraging independent peer-to-peer communities to emerge”.

This commitment is being taken forward through the Realising the Value (RTV) programme.

Realising the Value is designed to identify and scale key person and community centred approaches, by building the evidence base at the same time as developing tools, resources and networks to support their spread.

This week marks the culmination of the first phase of the programme, with the publication of: “At the heart of health: Realising the Value of People and Communities”.

This brings together in one place a wide range of person and community centred approaches – united by a common purpose – to genuinely put people and communities at the heart of what they do.

The report shows that person-centred and community-based approaches have significant potential to improve outcomes for individuals and communities, and enable more effective allocation of limited public finances.  Evidence from research and practice demonstrates the benefits of person and community centred approaches across three areas:

  • Mental and physical health and wellbeing: person and community based approaches can increase people’s self-efficacy and confidence to manage their own health and care, improve health outcomes and experience, reduce social isolation and loneliness and build community capacity and resilience, among other outcomes;
  • NHS sustainability: these approaches can impact how people use health and care services – and can lead to reduced demand on services, particularly emergency admissions and A&E visits; and
  • Wider social outcomes: including improving employment and school attendance as well as reducing health inequalities for individuals and communities.

The Realising the Value Programme has identified five approaches to focus on for the remainder of the programme. Together, these demonstrate a commitment to the principles of person and community centred care, show significant potential to enhance the quality of life of people living with long term conditions and deliver benefits across the three dimensions of value:

  • Peer support
  • Self-management education
  • Health coaching
  • Group activities to support health and wellbeing
  • Asset-based approaches in a health and wellbeing context

The programme has now recruited five local partner sites, each of which has experience and expertise in delivering one of the programme’s five prioritised approaches in a practical local setting.  This cutting edge programme will blend published evidence with local knowledge, expertise and data to create practical tools to help local health economies assess the potential impact of these approaches and support their implementation.

“At the heart of health” includes valuable evidence and information for commissioners and providers currently working in this area, and signals the future direction of the programme which will help the whole NHS to realise the value of individuals and communities engaged in their health and care.  The report can be read here on the Nesta website.


Anu Singh

Anu is Director of Patient & Public Participation and Insight at NHS England. She takes the lead for NHS England in ensuring that the voice of patients, service users, carers and the public is at the heart of the way NHS England works. Central to implementing the Five Year Forward View vision, she is responsible for taking forward national programmes of work that not only embed patient and public voice, feedback and insight in the NHS commissioning system, but also actively promote patient-centred care and approaches to care that make the most of community and patient participation.

Anu has a long history of leading Personalisation, empowerment, and placing communities at the heart of decision making. Anu was previously Head of Business Improvement for Staffordshire County Council where she was responsible for the commissioning of mental health, social care, community safety and education. For 12 years prior to that she was Head of Development and Improvement at the London Borough of Harrow and at Birmingham City Council, taking the lead on Place Shaping, Localisation of services, Community Empowerment and Business Transformation.

Anu is passionate about the integration of public services around the customer. She has commissioned the largest integrated Health and Social Care Trust in the country, and is also a Non-Executive Director and Quality Chair of Whittington Hospital Integrated Care Trust.

Pritti Mehta

Pritti Mehta is Head of Personalised Care for the North region, working with Integrated Care Systems and Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships to support the delivery of personalised care, empowering people and communities to take greater responsibility and control of their own health and wellbeing.

Pritti is passionate about systems leadership, self-care, diversity and inclusion. She believes in walking the walk!

Pritti joined NHS England in 2013 and has worked across strategy and delivery. She supported the development of the Five Year Froward View and led the commissioning of the Realising the Value programme, setting the national agenda and context for self-care. More recently, she led the Empowering People and Communities Workstream of the New Care Models programme, where her team worked intensively with 15 new care models to support the implementation and spread of self-care.

Pritti’s also a recent graduate of the Nye Bevan leadership programme for aspiring directors and is part of the NHS England’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Group talent management programme.

Pritti has 12 years’ experience in the voluntary sector, across RNIB, Action on Hearing Loss and Genetic Alliance UK, where she led and supported the development and delivery of national strategies to improve health and care services and support for a range of groups.

Pritti is a scientist by background, holding a Ph.D. and post-doctoral training in Developmental and Molecular Genetics.

Follow Pritti @pritti_mehta

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  1. jake says:

    Well, genuine involvement of patient is being ignored at the peril of the citizen, service improvement by the NHS staff who appear to be a block and have being institutionalized by the NHS. I agree with comments below. I wish you Anu, Pritti well but again, the baseline for you to improve is low so the bar is as high as you want to! This is an area of vital importance and the CCG’s, Providers and commissioners etc are looking to great leadership from you both given its been lack luster from others in NHS E! Disappointing.
    Start thinking outside the box, there is plenty of challenging comments below and people who have been sidelined – don’t let this be your style!

  2. Neil Meikle says:

    Anu and Pritti, I wish you every success is your endevours with this. Those with lived experience of mental health issues have historically been poorly served by the NHS. To give ‘Voice’ to these people would be a major achievement and would be a major step in making the ‘Parity of Esteem’ a reality in more areas of the NHS. What you state above are great words – hopefully, those with enduring mental health issues will begin to experience and benefit from these in the not too distant future.

  3. Kassandra says:

    Perhaps you should take a long hard look at the utter farce that is your Gather / Citizen online faux consultation project.
    It’s been outsourced to FOUR organizations in the so called voluntary sector at a cost of £ One million. They seem to be all doing their own separate thing with no one from the NHS bothering to watch what’s being done in its name.
    It claims that it’s aim is to hold NHS England to account.
    After about 3 years it’s provided nothing – except jobs for a bunch of careerists, interns and inserts from the privatise the NHS sector.
    Get a grip, f g s.

  4. Varsha Dodhia says:

    Great article and the short listed interventions have good basis. When traditional commissioners of “Local Infrastructure Support” and grants have totally dried up and CCGs are reluctant to come near organisations that work across communities they are connected to, who will fill the vacuum.

    The interventions are not zero sum game. Volunteering is not zero sum game.

    As we try pilots, support is retrenched by salami slicing everyday.

    Does anyone have a Sustainability Plan?

  5. graham phillips says:

    As a community pharmacist, I agree with absolutely everything in this article. Please explain how NHS England’s declared intention to close 3000 community pharmacies – not in a planned way – but by indiscriminate financial attrition – will help you achieve your laudable objectives