The Patients Association has been working with Royal College of Physicians and NHS England on the development of an outpatient strategy, ensuring the patient voice is heard throughout.

As Head of Patient Partnership, I champion the patient voice in our work and the work of other organisations. As outpatients is such a pivotal part of the NHS and is visited by millions of patients, it really is important that patients feed into the design and delivery of this service, as they know what is and isn’t working for them in terms of their care.

Patient panels

We have run two patient panels on outpatient services this year, made up of people who regularly use them. The first panel discussed what currently works well and what could be improved, and the second focused more specifically on access. For each of these, a report was written and given to Royal College of Physicians and NHS England staff involved in the work of the outpatient strategy development.

Gathering information from patients is what we, as the Patients Association, see as one of our USPs – convening diverse focus groups to ensure the patient voice is listened to and an organisation being able to use the report we write to improve their services or ways of working.

Patient panel
A big thank you to everyone … It was inspirational … and I was made to feel very welcome … It was better co-production than I expected … and I felt energised at the end of the day.

Shortly after the first patient panel, an outpatient summit was held, hosted by the  Royal College of Physicians and NHS England. Some of the panel members attended this and thier feedback was very positive about how the day went, with patients feeling listened to and included – whether attending virtually or in person.

Theory of Change

Members of the patient panel will continue to feed into this important piece of work by attending the panels and summits, each with a focus on a different theme.

We are pleased to be partnering on this project as it ties in with our theory of change – if patient input is actively sought, genuinely valued and meaningfully acted upon, then this can feed into healthcare organisations developing services with patients that identify and meet all the needs of different patient groups.

This involvment can then result in patients being equal partners in the design of health and care services. And as well as patients routinely participating in their care as equal partners, in line with good practice, we start to see true patient partnership taking shape.


There was great energy from everyone throughout the summit and I was really pleased that a patient or carer were seated at each table and really listened to. The discussions were so engaging between everyone, and the questions posed were well thought-out.

Through the Patients Association’s helpline, our lived experience advisory panel - Patient Voices Matter, focus groups and surveys, we hear over and over from patients that accessibility, communication and person-centred care need to be improved and hopefully this will start to take effect through the new outpatient strategy.

Sarah Tilsed, Head of Patient Partnership

If you use the health and social care system and would like to use your experience by being involved in similar work in the future with a variety of organisations, please sign up as a free member of the Patients Association. And if you are an organisation that would like to work with us, please get in contact with Sarah at [email protected].

To keep up to date with the progress of the work on the outpatient strategy, visit the Royal College of Physician's Medical Care website.