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The Healthcare Show 2023: Moving towards a safer, more equal, and personalised experience of care

Lucy Seymour

In April, The Healthcare Show, one of three co-located Health Plus Care events, brought together thought leaders from across health and social care. The host of topics under discussion included acting on inequality to ensure safety for those accessing care, leaning into lived experience, and thinking about elements of health and care more broadly. Attending on behalf of National Voices to determine policy priorities in the sector, the following reflects on my time at the event.

  • A vision for the future of primary care
  • The Core20PLUS5 Community Connector Programme
  • Voices for Improvement
  • Health inequalities
  • Lived experience
  • Person-centred care
  • Communication and administration
  • Primary care

Tackling the inequality of safety risks

Firstly, it was great to hear from Helen Hughes, Chief Executive of National Voices member organisation Patient Safety Learning, who discussed how integrated care systems (ICSs) can, and should, deliver effective system safety. In her talk, Hughes recognised the scale of avoidable harm in health and care, and looked at how we can improve safety for all, especially those in minoritised communities who often face greater safety risks in healthcare. She also highlighted the need to consider the safety of those accessing health and care services as a cross-cutting theme, calling on ICS leaders to take a wider view of inequalities using the NHSE Core20PLUS5 approach, which National Voices’ Project and Insight Manager, Aleyah Babb-Benjamin, has been working on.

Leaning into lived experience

During a talk from NHSE’s Andrea Westlake (Deputy Director of Community Transformation) and Sam Finnikin (GP and National Clinical Specialist Advisor), co-production was noted as ‘a real skill’. In another discussion, Chris Graham and Angela Coulter, respectively Chief Executive and Chair of Picker, further discussed improving person centred care, exploring the emergence of lived experience teams and the necessity to act on their insight and push for a greater balance of power. This belief is mirrored in National Voices’ own work surrounding co-production and lived experience, led by Keymn Whervin and Rachel Matthews.

This sentiment was explored to the greatest extent in a later talk from James Sanderson, Director of Personalised Care at NHSE and NHS Improvement, who noted the opportunity to support those living with a long-term condition to become experts in their condition. This allows them not only to make informed decisions about their own health but also to inform the wider system.

Empowering people accessing care in this way benefits the individual and presents an opportunity to move towards a fairer power balance in the sector – between those with lived experience and senior decision makers. Having worked with a number of Lived Experience Partners within the National Voices team, and hearing from people in similar positions across the coalition, I have seen the insight and ambition of people with lived experience, and a willingness to offer their expertise in a measured yet pressing way, to inform the future of the health and care sector.

Prioritising person-centred care

A greater need to respect the individual and their choices, and to provide more joined-up care, was another theme of the day. During a talk on primary care, James Sanderson and Dr Claire Fuller, Chief Executive of the Surrey Heartlands ICS and author of the Fuller Stocktake, highlighted that complex care requires team-based continuity and prioritisation of what matters to the individual, rather than what is assumed to matter. As highlighted in previous National Voices work, engaging with individuals receiving care, listening to their feedback and what matters most to them, will ultimately result in better outcomes, not just for the individual but for the system as a whole. With the British Social Attitudes survey recording the lowest level of satisfaction with the NHS since 1997, ensuring the health and care workforce is sufficiently resourced to support individuals to make informed choices regarding their care is arguably needed now more than ever.

The not-so-glamorous side of health and care

The day closed with the Institute for Health and Social Care Management hosting a panel discussion exploring what is next for the health and social care workforce. The panel mirrored sentiments shared by Sarah Sweeney (then National Voices’ Interim Chief Executive, now Head of Membership and Development) during an All-Party Parliamentary Health Group discussion held in March, discussing the need for a greater focus on some of the less glamorous aspects of health and care, notably administration and communications.

Through our work with National Voices members, we have seen how regularly individuals do not have their communication needs met within primary care. This includes Deaf people, people with learning disabilities, people who don’t speak English fluently, people with low or no literacy and many others. As part of our upcoming conference on primary care on 28 June, we will be further exploring the current limitations of communications and administration within primary care, drawing from lived experience and insights from our members to determine how such hurdles can be overcome.

Moving forward in a meaningful way

Overall, the event provided a space for lived experience to be fully incorporated into the programme in a meaningful way, advocating for personalised care and inclusive communication. There is no doubt that the NHS currently faces a host of challenges, and it was positive to see recognition of people’s experiences called for as we collectively tackle such difficulties, mirroring National Voices’ mission of making what matters to people matter in health and care.


Lucy Seymour is the Communications and Membership Officer at National Voices. Alongside holding previous experience in the charity sector, advocating for equality to access of cancer screening, Lucy is passionate about tackling communicative and gender-based barriers in health and care.