National Voices has never been more important
- Lived experience
Navigating the unnavigable
You are most likely aware that the NHS and care in England is undergoing huge reform. Seismic reform which aims to move us away from competition and towards collaboration. It can feel totally unmanageable to keep on top of it all.
So what if we have a bunch of new acronyms to get our head around, will this reform deliver timely care and information when people need it most?
And this is what National Voices does so well. Helping us all to think about the practical solutions to common challenges, and to urge policymakers (and policy professionals in the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector) to rise above the wonkery – let us truly consider if this latest set of reforms will actually make a difference.
I have had the pleasure of working with National Voices in a variety of different roles in the past decade, most recently as Chief Executive of a fellow infrastructure body. Throughout, National Voices has provided a space to push for collective change, peer support and help to navigate the unnavigable.
Prioritising lived experience above all else
More recently, we have been inspired by the continued growth of National Voice’s approach to co-production, co-design and public involvement. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, the team worked exceptionally hard to understand who the pandemic was hitting the hardest, why and how.
National Voices’ work to introduce Lived Experience Partners, and growth of the Voices for Improvement community in partnership with member organisations, is particularly exciting. We know that people with Lived Experience bring important insight to the design and delivery of care, and understand how resources can be directed for better value. I am also extremely concerned that as pressures increase for health and care services, effective public involvement will increasingly become a ‘nice to have’ rather than the ‘must do’ it really is. So initiatives like this are absolutely critical, and something that I am sure every member of both the Neurological Alliance and National Voices can learn from.
Here at the Neurological Alliance, we’re learning all that we can from National Voices – we too are transforming our approach to listening, involving and co-producing work with people affected by neurological conditions. Our most recent ‘Back the 1 in 6’ campaign involved people affected by neurological conditions throughout its development and implementation, and we want to grow our approach even further. Importantly, we want to provide members a space to do the same and learn from others in the process.
Working together has never been more needed
National Voices has been a vital voice throughout the most recent swathe of reforms, and I am sure will continue to be a fruitful space for collaboration, influence and change. No one member or individual will have all the answers we need to bring about equitable treatment, care and support – this will only be possible if we work together.
It is in this spirit that I celebrate the growing National Voices community and look forward to continuing to work with coalition members (both current and prospective) to speak much needed truth to power at a time when this has never been more needed.
Georgina joined the Neurological Alliance in January 2020. Prior to her role at The Alliance, Georgina was with the MS Society for more than six years, overseeing their work to improve MS treatment, care and support. Georgina has a close connection to neurological conditions, and is passionate about raising the bar of treatment, care and support across the country.