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Patient Forum 2024: How can we make patient involvement more effective?

The MTG believes that patient power can transform the NHS. Those who interact and receive care from the health service hold invaluable insights into the delivery of healthcare and how this could be improved.

At present however, there is deep variation in the quality of this meaningful representation across the NHS. Not only is this holding back opportunities to improve the quality of patient care, but in some instances stifling the effective uptake of innovation across the health service.

In our recent report into meaningful patient involvement, we found variation throughout these structures, policies and processes of Integrated Care Systems, from the omission of patient representatives on decision-making bodies, to the absence of clear consultation when decisions are made concerning a patient’s care.

How can we make patient involvement more effective? In our consultation we asked the patient group members of the Medical Technology Group to share their experiences of patient involvement on the NHS.

The consultation highlighted several areas where improvements can be made in the effort to improve the patient experience within committees and working groups. Below are two of the key insights from the forum.

Comprehensive training for patients

Several patient groups suggested that the training provided is more about ‘paying lip service’ to the patient’s voice rather than being of genuine benefit. This leaves patients feeling unprepared to sit on committees or working groups and contribute meaningfully.

The MTG believes more responsibility and action must be taken by organisations to work collaboratively with patient groups to ensure patients sitting on committees and working groups are properly prepared

Understanding a range of patient experiences

‘Expert patients’ are often recruited to sit on committees and working groups due to the inaccessibility of the most appropriate individuals. While they can prove extremely valuable in sharing the patient experience, a failure to recruit a diverse range of patients limits the extent of meaningful involvement across the health service. This runs the risk of patient involvement becoming a tick-box exercise.

The MTG believes it is essential that the NHS and other organisations increase the diversity of patient involvement to ensure the average patient experience is wholly represented across decision-making.

Improve the feedback loop

MTG patient groups felt that feedback from the organisations was minimal, often given verbally, or presented in the form of a summary at the end of a meeting. There was a concern that organisations were not sufficiently taking forward information provided by patients.

The MTG recommends the improvement of patient feedback loops and would like to reiterate the importance of improvements to ensure patients know what the output of their input has been.

Download the full report here.

January 2024

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