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Future of Healthcare Q1 2023

Working with patients improves safety and quality

Image provided by the Patients Association

Rachel Power

Chief Executive, the Patients Association

Patients working with healthcare professionals and health systems is the future of healthcare.


This year, 2023, is the Patients Association’s 60th birthday. Since our foundation in 1963, some of our campaigning positions are now considered routine. The idea of patients working with professionals — or the healthcare system — is accepted. But there are many barriers to this happening in practice.

Partnership is better

When we talk about patient partnership, we mean two things: Patient partnership in patients’ own care and treatment, and partnership in the design and delivery of services that patients use.

We are part way through a five-year strategy to embed patient partnership across the health and social care systems. Our vision is of health and care services designed and delivered through equal partnerships with patients — from decisions about service design to each decision a patient makes about their own care and treatment.

This approach answers the challenge of rebuilding health and care after the pandemic. We also believe it has many benefits for both patients and the healthcare system. Partnership can overcome persistent problems of patients not being listened to, is more likely to deliver services that meet patients’ diverse needs and is key to tackling health inequalities.

Patient partnership is key to the future of healthcare and managing rising levels of need.

Patient partnership strategy

Our strategy gives us a purpose to make patient partnership a reality at every level. We want an inclusive approach to how services are designed to meet the needs of patients and as the basis for the care of every patient. In this our diamond anniversary year, our strategy is a natural development of the core themes that have always run through
our work.

Patient partnership is key to the future of healthcare and managing rising levels of need. That is because when you work in partnership with patients, services are more likely to meet patients’ needs. This means results for patients are better.

Partnership working is cost-effective because when a service meets patients’ needs, it reduces the money wasted on ineffective services. When patients get the services they need, it reduces the need for services to fix problems caused by inadequate care and treatment.

Partnership with patients improves safety. A system that partners with patients values their input and responds to their concerns. Failure to listen to patients is often a factor in NHS safety scandals.

Making partnership work

Working in partnership can be as easy or as complicated as you want to make it. But a good place to start is simply by asking patients what they want — and listening to them.

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