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Wealth and waste management – Introducing the Patient Partners Programme

Rachel Matthews

Rachel Matthews introduces our Patient Partners programme.

  • Voices for Improvement
  • Lived experience

As I join the National Voices community, I’m struck by the enormous wealth of experience held by the many people associated with this organisation. A skim through the blogs over the last 12 months shows me there is no shortage of talent and enthusiasm. It’s an exciting time to introduce the Patient Partners Programme co-design opportunity so how do we get started?

Where do we want to get to?

The long-term vision is to create and strengthen a community of improvers and patient advocates with a focus on supporting under-represented groups. The intention is to increase the positive impact of improvement efforts across health and care by ensuring a stronger focus on user experience. In the shorter term, this is an opportunity to understand what’s going well and how we can spread and strengthen better practice.

Doing ‘with’, not ‘to’, ‘for’ or ‘about

The Patient Partners Programme is funded by the Health Foundation Q Community and will be co-designed. At this early stage there is a broad vision and some ideas about how to get there but nothing has been fixed yet. This is a chance to shape the programme together.

Values and value

Our health and social care system is under pressure and in the race to manage demand, costs and performance it’s easy to lose sight of our values and the value of relationships that underpin safe and effective care. The value of listening to people’s experiences can be lost. Experience should be central, patients need to be heard and see that their voices positively influence health and social care.

Wealth and waste

There is already a large volume of data about the experience of health and social care. From published research to online platforms through to everyday conversations we are information rich. However, this wealth can be squandered. Every person wanting to make care better on the basis of their story is offering a gift. It takes people courage to share their experiences and to get involved. Where this courage is squandered, it is an opportunity for improvement wasted.

Mind your language

How we talk about health and improvement can reinforce power and it sets the direction and tone for the way people work together. As we get started on this work, we want to really consider if the language we use helps or hinders what we want to achieve together. We want to understand if there is more helpful language that helps people to connect better and productively.

Next steps: Building relationships for improvement

National Voices and the Health Foundation Q Community are jointly creating this opportunity to design stronger mechanisms for connecting and supporting patients, users and carers involved in improvement. Here’s an overview of our plan for the year:

January – April

  1. Identify people and organisations to bring fresh thinking to this ambition
  2. Explore what’s working well
  3. Initiate and recruit to a ‘Check and Challenge’ Group who will oversee the project management, resources and governance.

May – September

  1. Build connections and bring people together to co-design ideas
  2. Investigate promising ideas in depth
  3. Identify partnership opportunities

October – December

  1. Consolidate our shared learning
  2. Co-design a proposal to build on better practice
  3. Develop partnerships to sustain and spread better practice


If you think you or your organisation would like to learn with us, do get in touch. We are looking for people who can think inclusively, have fresh ideas and who are excited by the long term vision. If you would like to find out more, please register here to our webinar on January 31 2020.