Board offers more power to your elbow

We are taking an exciting step forward in our journey towards people-powered health.

At its meeting last Friday, the Board of NHS England approved a new patient and public participation policy and statement of arrangements.  It also committed to further action to seek out, listen and respond to people’s views on the NHS.

As the NHS Constitution says, the NHS belongs to us all, so do get involved and have your say.

Tim Kelsey, National Director for Patients and Information, highlighted the importance of the new policy, telling the Board: “Patient and public participation is not a nice to have. It is an absolutely fundamental part, as any customer facing business would realise, of delivering a high quality and effective service.”

Patient and public participation is important for so many reasons. It gives people the opportunity to make their voice heard and influence how the health services they use work.

Working together also helps us to improve the quality of health services and leads to better care and treatment for patients. It enables us to understand the needs of people who have the poorest health, so that we can improve access to services for them, and reduce health inequalities.  Participation also helps us to see things differently and to be innovative, leading to a better use of our limited resources.

Our new policy sets out our ambition to strengthen patient and public participation in all that we do. Our statement of arrangements and guidance on patient and public participation in commissioning show how we meet our legal duty to involve the public in decisions about NHS services. Both documents were developed together with NHS England staff, organisations representing patients and the public, and other key partners.

The policy and arrangements are key to strengthening patient and public participation across NHS England and underpin our work. But the important part is how we put them into practice and ensure the patient voice is at the heart of our decisions.

If you have ideas and suggestions that you would like to work with us on to support staff, share practice and develop ways of embedding patient and public voice in your work please do get in touch.

Watch this space to see how we’re getting on and for updates on how working together is improving health services!

  • Approved versions of the policy and statement of arrangements will be published on our website during the week of 30 November 2015.
Olivia Butterworth

Olivia Butterworth is Head of Public Participation for NHS England and NHS Improvement.

She ensures the NHS works with citizens and communities to have a voice that influences the development, design and delivery of our health and care services.
Olivia is the national lead for the People and Communities workstream of the Primary Care Networks programme and was named in the HSJs Top 50 Innovators and the Top 50 Integrators in 2014. In 2018 she was named as one of the Top 70 NHS Stars.

She has a background in Community Development and education with a passion for empowering people to be their own change.

Olivia has worked with a wide and diverse range of voluntary sector organisations, both in paid and voluntary roles, providing support with organisational development, developing services, engagement, involvement and fundraising. Olivia is very proud to be a Trustee of Manchester based LGBT Foundation and a Non-Executive Director of Local Care Direct.

You can follow her on Twitter @LiviBF


  1. Brett the Vet says:

    So dedicated to Patients and Public [P&P] having a REAL voice in the NHS England is Mr Stevens that he point blank refused to even consider giving P&P a voice, never mind a vote in selecting Lay Directors of CCG Boards. These are the people who are supposed to represent the ordinary people using the NHS.
    Who selects them? Their fat cat chums on the CCG Boards,
    Mind you, they only get paid £15 000/yr a couple of days a month !
    The same goes for Lay Directors on Hospital Trust Boards – another old boys and girls network with no public vote or vote.
    Democracy? A User’s voice ? Some hope.

  2. Anon says:

    Fantastic – can’t come soon enough!. Just dealing with a patient who has been ‘dumped’ by the system – discharged from local hospital; given 5 daily vaccines and told to make his own arrangements with his GP surgery to get them administered. No one checked as to his understanding, no one checked to see surgery availability, no one checked as to what they could do to arrange things more conveniently for the patient, and no one checked what they had actioned was deliverable in any shape or form.

    Having watched the board meeting via webex (until it crashed ‘off-air’) the great intentions are a million miles away from reality – but this mechanism will make it easier to get to where we need to be!