How putting people first and asking ‘What Matters to You’ can shape the future of healthcare for professionals and people

Suzanne Rastrick, Chief Allied Health Professions Officer (England) and Rob Moriarty, Personalised Care Strategic Coproduction Group and Peer Leader, NHS England and NHS Improvement share the importance of asking the simple question ‘What matters to you?’.

Today, NHS England and NHS Improvement is supporting What Matters To You? day, which aims to showcase and encourage meaningful conversations so that they take place routinely between people, health and care professionals and people who receive care and support, as well as their families and carers.

As Allied Health Professions (AHPs) we are committed to providing personalised care to people and communities by putting people and their families at the centre of shared decision making, seeing people as experts working alongside professionals to achieve the best outcome. Such is our commitment we started this process in the development of our incoming ‘AHP Strategy for England 2022-2027. AHPs Deliver”. At the end of June, we will be launching the new strategy at the annual Chief AHP Officer (CAHPO, England) conference thus setting the strategic priorities for the AHP Community.

During the development of the strategy the office for the CAHPO facilitated meaningful on-line (crowdsourcing) and off-line conversations and started by asking people and communities ‘what matters to you?’. We have been committed to capturing diverse voices within our conversations including those of underrepresented communities. It is the insights of people and communities that have shaped the strategy, that will guide the third largest clinical workforce in England. We are dedicated to extending our co-production to the co-implementation and co-evaluation of the strategy in the coming years. This includes the recruitment of two Patient Public Volunteers (PPVs) to the strategy programme board, with combined experience of receiving and caring for those receiving a range of AHP services.

One of the five strategy project team members was one of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s Personalised Care team peer leaders. Here is Rob’s story.

What matters to me is being able to make a difference.

Switching to a personal health budget in 2014 was the first time I was seen as a person with both needs and things I wanted to achieve. Since my spinal injury in 1998, I’ve been constantly fighting for the support I needed to live an independent lifestyle instead of struggling with support from a health and social care system which just about kept me alive. The personal health budget allowed my needs and ambitions to be treated with equal importance and I started living the life I’d been craving to get back again, actively contributing back to my community.

What’s always mattered to me is working for more than the sake of simply having something to do, I wanted to make the world a better place in a truly meaningful way. I joined the NHS England and NHS Improvement personalised care strategic coproduction group as their approach to involvement genuinely meant work was co-produced between healthcare professionals and those like me with lived experience. Developing long-term relationships means the true impact of this work is demonstrably measurable for all to see.

Any work I do through the group has to match my expectations and benchmark that my involvement is meaningful, and time is respected and valued. Being a member of AHP strategy project team exceeded both. I was recruited from the beginning and the expectation of me was clear. I wasn’t simply encouraged to contribute or be a critical friend, I proactively influenced the shape of the project. My 20-year marketing consultancy background offered professional advice to enhance the accessibility of the crowdsourcing platform to reach a wider range of voices and connect with marginalised community representatives. Meaningful and ultimately enriching contributions towards the next five-year AHP plan.

This year’s annual Chief Allied Health Professions Officer Conference 2022 takes place 21-23 June 2022. Rob Moriarty will be speaking on 22 June as part of the ‘People First’ session. Tickets are sold out, but you can watch via livestream.

Rob Moriarty

Rob lives in Leeds and has over two decades lived experience with a high-level spinal cord injury, self-managing his 24-hour care through a range of personalisation schemes. Rob actively participates in service user involvement at a number of local universities, sharing his experiences of working with and receiving support from the health and social care sector. He’s been a member of the NHS England Personalised Care Strategic Co-production Group and Lived Experience team since September 2017.

Suzanne Rastrick

Suzanne qualified as an Occupational Therapist from Oxford. Suzanne was the first Allied Health Professional (AHP) to hold a substantive Director of Nursing post in both provider and commissioning organisations. She became the Chief Executive of a Primary Care Trust, where a particular highlight was having leadership responsibility for delivering health resilience and health ‘blue light’ services during the Olympic sailing events held in Dorset in 2012. She subsequently gained authorisation for a large Clinical Commissioning Group, before moving to her current post with NHS England. She was appointed as Chief Allied Health Professions Officer for England in September 2014.

In 2017 Suzanne launched the first AHP strategy for England which has been recognised as ground-breaking in policy development from its use of crowdsourcing. Building on this, Suzanne published the second AHP strategy – ‘AHPs Deliver’ in June 2022. This iteration had a greater emphasis on patient, public voice and specifically the inclusion of those who may be digitally excluded along with communities who may find it difficult to connect with traditional consultation methods. The result is a national strategy crowdsourced from diverse populations for people and communities AHPs serve.

For over three decades, Suzanne has held non-executive portfolios outside of the NHS, including audit committee chair roles, predominantly in the housing and charitable sector. Suzanne was recognised as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s birthday honours list 2019. In 2023 Suzanne was awarded a Visiting Professor role at St George’s, University of London and at Oxford Brookes University.

Follow Suzanne on Twitter/X @SuzanneRastrick or Instagram @chief_ahp_officer_england