Seven days have passed and everything has changed. A landslide became a minority government. Two health ministers , David Mowatt and Nicola Blackwood, lost their seats. Hard Brexit might become a bit softer. Two party politics is back, for now.
But, actually, a lot of things haven’t changed at all.
Research into patients’ experience is going on in various ways all over the country. Often charities are commissioning research which might not be known to academics, and vice versa. Speaking as a research manager, I have always found it really important to find out what research others have done and what their findings were. More than this though, it’s very helpful to hear what research is currently underway but not yet published, or is in the pipeline, and what the focus will be.
All of us in National Voices sign up to the concept of person-centred care, enabling the patient voice to be heard and collaborative decision-making to flourish. But let me be challenging. Whatever we do at policy or organisational level, our efforts may remain a pipedream unless we can influence the individual consultation: what actually happens between health professionals, patients and family members in that brief moment of time when they come together. What can we do to ensure that each encounter enables the patient to be heard and their views to be taken seriously?
Co-production has become the latest buzzword to capture the imagination of commissioners and health and social care providers, in their quest to provide genuine person centred support to the people they provide services for. Too often though, it has been reduced to being a simple rebranding of its predecessor, "user involvement", with no real or meaningful change taking place.
One of the fundamental principles of the NHS is that it is free at the point of access for all. The exception to this are charges for certain ‘overseas visitors’ including short-term visitors but also people living in the UK with uncertain migration status such as refused asylum seekers.
The Government has announced that from April, new regulations for overseas visitors charging are to be implemented by the NHS. This will have two key impacts: one, that there will now be a legal obligation for hospitals to charge upfront for secondary care, ceasing care where full payment is not received in advance; and two, that charges will be extended to all non-NHS providers of NHS services meaning providers of ‘acute, mental and community NHS services’ will be required to charge in line with overseas visitor rules.