Why Always Events matter

The beginning of 2017 brings an ideal opportunity to challenge ourselves. In this blog, Neil Churchill, Director for Patient Experience at NHS England asks what are the things that we ALWAYS want to happen when we access healthcare either for ourselves or our families or friends?

Imagine if there was a programme to help us ensure that we could identify the things that really matter and ensure they were consistently achieved. Well the Always Events® programme could be just what you’re looking for.

Always Events® are defined as ‘those aspects of the patient and family experience that should always occur when patients interact with healthcare professionals and the health care delivery system’. NHS England, in collaboration with Picker Institute Europe and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), have been leading an initiative for developing, implementing, and spreading an approach to reliably integrate Always Events® into routine care processes.

Always Events® is an approach to accelerate improvement efforts to enhance experiences of care for patients, their family members or other care partners, and service users. Genuine partnerships between patients, service users, care partners, and clinicians are the foundation for co-designing and implementing reliable care processes that transform care experiences with the goal being an ‘Always Experience.’ The creation of an Always Events® is a practical methodology for achieving this goal.

Working together, the three organisations developed a programme to pilot and test the Always Events® framework and create a toolkit to support implementation of Always Events® within the NHS in England.

The programme began in 2015 and involved 10 provider pilot sites across England.  Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust which was part of the pilot programme has already successfully implemented ALWAYS Events for people with Learning Disabilities and are now spreading the approach across the organisation. Helen Lee, Head of Quality Improvement and Patient Experience, reported the calls with IHI, NHS England and Picker were an invaluable source of support when planning, testing and implementing our Always Event.

A toolkit based on the learning from pilot sites has now been published and is available on our ‘Always Events’ webpages. We’re now looking to spread Always Events® framework to additional sites and a series of calls and webinars will be available for interested organisations commencing in January.

Anyone who is currently implementing Always Events® or thinking of doing so should be encouraged to join the calls.  If not already registered please contact Deborah Maude at and for further information on Always Events please contact Lorraine Wolfenden at

Dr Neil Churchill

Neil is Director for People and Communities at NHS England, having joined the NHS after a 25-year career in the voluntary sector. His work includes understanding people’s experiences of the NHS, involving people and communities in decision-making and leading change to improve the quality and equality of care. He has a particular focus on strengthening partnerships with unpaid carers, volunteers and the voluntary sector.

Neil has previously been a non-executive director for the NHS in the South of England, is a member of the Strategy Board for the Beryl Institute and Chair of Care for the Carers in East Sussex. He is himself an unpaid carer. Neil tweets as @neilgchurchill

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One comment

  1. Kassander says:

    Goodness Gracious Me – yet another TOOL KIT
    This time it’s a ® one.
    Do tell who gets the Royalties.
    Why does NHSE feel it necessary to collaborate with a company based in Massachusetts?
    Haven’t the US(A) got enough problems with their own dysfunctional, devil-take-the-hindmost system without messing around with Our=NHS?
    However, it’s good to read that you’re dedicated to “Genuine partnerships” as against the fake ones which you imply existed, and possibly still exist, before you and your team came on the scene.
    Well done, have a Professorship – everyone else in NHSE seems to have one to go with their (Honorary) Doctorate.