Patient involvement


What is National Voices doing?

National Voices is promoting the delivery of patient involvement in a number of ways:

  • Influencing Ministers and the Department: National Voices is working with the Secretary of State and high level civil servants to improve their understanding of, and commitment to, patient involvement. Our responses to the consultations on shared decision making and the Mandate to the Commissioning Board have played a key role here.  
  • Statutory Guidance: National Voices sits on the reference group which is shaping the guidance and is promoting clarity of scope, a definition of patient involvement which makes sense to commissioners and inclusion of approaches which have been proven to improve the quality of patient care
  • Influencing the Commissioning Board: National Voices is working with the NHS Commissioning Board to encourage recognition of patient involvement as an essential part of the achievement of its vision and strategy
  • Supporting commissioners: National Voices is working with partners to produce ideas and case studies to demonstrate ways in which commissioners can commission for patient involvement

What is the issue?

Many of the changes in the current health reforms are underpinned by the concepts of choice and control. Although patient choice is important, the time spent with healthcare professionals is often small in comparison to the amount of time the individual will spend in managing their own health. Evidence suggests that greater patient involvement in the decision making process leads to better treatment adherence and improved health behaviours, ‘activating’ patients to play a role in their own self care.

National Voices and a group of 10 leading charities campaigned to ensure that the Health and Social Care Act 2012 included a duty to ‘promote the involvement of each patient’ in decisions relating to diagnosis, prevention, care or treatment. Now we are eager to make sure that this duty can be realised by enabling a real culture shift in practice. 

What is patient involvement?

Patient involvement refers to approaches which engage individual patients in the management of their health and healthcare, and in the decisions that are made in the course of it.

This includes, but is wider than, ‘shared decision making’, which in its tightest definition refers to choice of treatment – the process whereby the patient and their healthcare professional discuss all the treatment options available and come to a view about which is the most appropriate to choose. It may also include the way we do that over time if we have a long term condition – that is, through care planning with our professionals.

‘Patient involvement’ encompasses approaches and interventions that enable patients to participate in these and other forms of decision: the best ways to provide patient information; self-management education; health coaching and so on.