Reaching the majority

The Vice-Chair of Islington CCG and RCGP, Clinical Champion for Collaborative Care and Support Planning, explains how we need to capitalise on the enthusiasm of patients, service users and citizens to make person centred care a reality:

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if every contact with a health care professional resulted in partnership-working, with people feeling able to identify what was important to them and as if they had been heard?

We know person-centred care makes sense, so why isn’t it happening?

As a provider of general practice and a clinical commissioner working with professionals across the NHS landscape, I can honestly say I’m not surprised. The health system is creaking and people are working flat out, trying to deliver high-quality care to an ever expanding population, whose conditions become more complex as they live longer.

Even if there are pockets where person-centred care is embraced, these are the innovators and early adopters – we have a long way to go before it reaches the majority!

So how can we achieve this vision of person-centred care being the norm?

We know from the pockets of great practice that there needs to be a whole-system approach with senior buy-in, from commissioners and providers. We need champions who are opinion leaders, who are listened to, respected and can promote the cultural shift needed. We need systems that are user-centric, not provider-centric and which reward quality care. But for me, we need to harness our most valuable resource; our citizens, our service users, our patients.

We need to capitalise on the enthusiasm of those people in our population who are telling us that person-centred care is what they want.

We need to ensure that these groups are aware of the resources available to them, such as care planning in primary care, diabetes self-management programmes and Patient Online. We need to find out what would enable them to go further faster, engaging with them, so they feel empowered to ask practitioners for the care they want and deserve.

Enabling those within society with the right skills, knowledge and confidence to take an active role in their care, will allow resources to be refocused to support those who have the greatest need.

We need to develop a greater understanding of our population; to measure and record people’s level of skills, confidence and knowledge so we know how and with whom to work.

We need to understand what the different parts of the population need in order to take action to self-manage and work in partnership as equals. This will differ depending on where that individual is on their journey – it may be an online health forum, such as PatientsLikeMe or a self-management support group like helponyourdoorstep. But whatever form it takes, it must be enabling.

Together, members of the Commissioning for Person-centred Care Working Group have been seeking to understand these issues. Patients, commissioners and providers from across England come together quarterly to share learning, provide challenges to each other and to policy makers in NHS England, and to disseminate examples of innovation and good practice, so that local populations have the chance to benefit from new ways of working.

The group’s thinking is also influencing new programmes like Realising the Value, which is exploring a new relationship between patients and communities, to identify a set of evidence-based approaches that will strengthen the case for a person-centred care system across local communities and the NHS. And organisations, like the Coalition for Collaborative Care, who want to help people ask for partnership working, and the Royal College of GPs are driving the culture shift towards Collaborative Care and Support Planning in general practice.

In the meantime, we need to build on the new service offers that have tried to introduce care planning and we need to capitalise on our most valuable assets, our patients and communities, as it is only through enabling them that we will achieve our vison of person-centred care for the majority.

  • If you would like to join the Commissioning for Person-centred Care Working Group and help us bring about this change, please get in touch and email
  • To read the RCGP’s Commissioning Principles and Building Blocks for delivering CC&SP please visit
Dr Katie Coleman

Dr Katie Coleman is a GP partner at The City Road Medical Centre. The practice was established in 1999 in collaboration with Dr Josephine Sauvage, Chair of Islington CCG and together they developed the organisation into a thriving inner-city training practice.

She is the Islington CCG Governing board GP lead for Patient and Public Participation and the Chief Clinical Information Officer, leading on the development of integrated care records for Islington residents in collaboration with other CCGs across North London Partners in health and social care.

She is the North London Partners clinical lead in Primary care and Care Closer to Home, providing strategic direction on the development of Care Closer to Home Integration networks and Quality improvement support teams (QISTs), Access to GP services and social prescribing.

Katie has recently taken up a GP Director role for the Islington GP federation.

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