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Patient and Public Involvement

Public and Patient Involvement for consultants

What is Patient and Public Involvement (PPI)?

Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) provides patients, their carers and the public with a real opportunity to influence service delivery by creating a culture where NHS professionals are actively listening and responding to the views of patients.

Proactive patient and public engagement can also improve patients’ experience of the NHS and their relationships with clinical professionals.

Each trust has a statutory duty to engage and involve patients in the planning of healthcare services under the NHS Constitution. These core principles are shared across all health care services provided in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Under section 242 of the consolidated NHS Act 2006, it became mandatory for health service providers, commissioners, acute and primary care trusts in England to involve and consult with patients in the development and planning of their local healthcare services.

The duty to consult with patients was also similarly legislated for in Wales (section 183), Scotland (Section 7) and Northern Ireland (Section 20).

The coalition’s White Paper “Equity and Excellence – Liberating the NHS” stipulates that services should be more responsive to patients and designed around them, rather than patients having to fit around services - "no decisions about me without me".

Methods for involving patients

There is a variety of ways in which dermatology departments can proactively involve and engage with their patients. These range from the relatively simple and commonly used methods, such as administering patient experience surveys  and reviewing and responding to patient queries and complaints, to the more complex such as asking patients to keep a diary, conducting discovery interviews or establishing a patient panel, to influence service delivery and commissioning challenges.

There are also specific PPI activities in regards to improving clinical audit and governance and in training and education.

It is important that dermatology departments forge relationships with their local authorities to influence how their local services are developed. Local Authority Health Overview and Scrutiny Committees (HOSCs) must be consulted on any changes to service provision in primary and secondary care. This includes ensuring local public, patients and clinicians have been consulted as part of the commissioning process.

Local Involvement Networks (LINks) under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 were set up to investigate the quality of existing and proposed health service provision locally. They worked closely with HOSCs and were also able to refer issues of concern to each other.

In July 2010 the Government's White Paper Liberating the NHS proposed the abolition of LINks and the introduction of Local HealthWatch. This was included in the Health and Social Care Act 2012. The intention is to strengthen public influence and involvement in health and social care, as well as to remove ambiguity in 'hosting' arrangements.

It is envisaged that Local HealthWatch will build upon the existing functions of LINks to include the provision of information and advice to help people make choices about health and care services, as well as the possibility of providing an advocacy service for people making a complaint using the NHS complaints process.

A HealthWatch England has also been set up, as an independent arm of the Care Quality Commission with a specific remit to represent at national level people using health and social care services. HealthWatch England will use evidence from Local HealthWatch, and from carrying out its own work, to identify concerns and poorly performing services. It will then be able to recommend to Care Quality Commission that they investigate those services.

Similar networks are available for Wales through the Community Health Council (CHC), The Scottish Health Council and the Patient Client Council in Northern Ireland.

Useful sources for further information

Carers UK

AvMA - Action Against Medical Accidents

Patients Association

BAD Public and Patient information can be found here

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