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Give Expo 2019 a go, you won’t regret it

A Patient Representative and Advocate reflects on previous Health and Care Innovation Expo events and previews Expo 2019:

There are a couple of months to go before the doors open on Expo 2019 and they’ll go in a flash.

I’m really excited to be running a session with a team of talented and committed people who recognise the value of patient engagement, involvement and ultimately co-production. I’m also a little bit apprehensive because we’re going to do something new, to hold an exciting and interactive session where we hope to learn from each other.

I’ve been telling people about what we are intending to do but strangely lots of people I have spoken to in the NHS haven’t heard of Expo. To be fair I can see that Expo wouldn’t be top of the list of priorities if you’re bogged down at work. However, Expo has a great deal to offer to everyone involved in health and possibly this isn’t always made clear enough.

Let me try to explain what, as a Patient Partner, impressed me on my first visit to Expo in 2015. It was the breadth of engagement from people involved in health and the wealth of innovation on show. To me the innovations that really registered were those designed by patients who had recognised a need and decided to do something to address it.

But Expo is more than the innovation on show. It is an opportunity to learn about and to engage with the many different parts of the NHS and the organisations that feed into the system. For example, how many people know what an Academic Health Science Networks (AHSN) is or what it does? As someone who dislikes acronyms I can’t resist sometimes tweeting my version of AHSN as Another Helpful Supportive Network which is what they are in my opinion. I‘ve worked with the Oxford Academic Health Science Network and seen the valuable work they do.

Then we have the NHS Leadership Academy which does more than run Leadership courses, there’s NHS Horizons, NIHR the research people, and so many others, all equally important. Expo presents an ideal opportunity to engage with, and learn from, any or all of them.

But to get back to the main reason for my blog, Patient Involvement in the NHS is incredibly important to me. I’ve spent the last 15 years speaking about it. My second visit to Expo in 2016 was after pitching for, and winning, a pop-up university session to co-present the Leading Together programme with the Oxford AHSN.

In 2017 I was asked to chair a session on Co-production on the Futures Stage, then in 2018 co-presented a session sharing a new Carers App being designed in the South East. This year will be the best of all.

I have come to recognise the huge value of Expo as a platform for different organisations, charities and companies to present and engage with, not just the NHS but, the wider Health Community including the Patients and Carers who have a particular interest in promoting new ideas. Added to which there are inspiring speakers, great presenters and a couple of award presentations.

I can only recommend that you give it a try. You will, no doubt, come away as enthusiastic as I am. You could learn something new, make new contacts and join all the others find it worthwhile year after year.

The Health and Innovation Expo 2019 will be held at Manchester Central on September 4 and 5.

Carol Munt

In 1982 Carol Munt was a passenger involved in a road traffic accident in France, resulting in a fractured skull, brain haemorrhage and coma. On return to the UK she was diagnosed with Narcolepsy & Cataplexy as a result of the trauma.

She is passionate about Co-Production and Patient & Public Involvement.

She is an Honorary Lecturer & Doubleday Affiliate at Manchester Medical School.

Carol was recently adopted onto the NHS Always Events Advisory Group; is an active member of HQIP Service User Network, NIHR-NHSE Patient Experience Team, Kent & Medway STP Patient & Public Advisory Group and Workforce programme, DeepMind Health Users Group, Rosamund Snow community and also a member of the Q community.

A qualified nurse, Carol has also been a successful business woman, and a Parish Council Chair. She has been a reader for the Talking Newspaper for the Blind since the 1970s.

She lives in Tunbridge Wells and lists travel and photography among her hobbies.

Her regular tweets about health-related news are @muntma.

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