The Patient’s Association’s first patient partnership week ended last Friday.

It was a marvellous chance for us to showcase how patients and professionals working together makes a difference.  The immediate feedback from participants has been very complimentary, and I hope patient partnership week will become an annual event for us.


I enjoyed hearing about our work in partnership with the health service in Nottinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex on tools to improve shared decision making and supporting patient partnership groups. It was great to see the difference we make.

I was privileged to chair the webinar Making Families Count ran for us. Hearing from families about what matters to them when the NHS responds after serious harm to a loved was so important.

We heard that when the NHS really listens and works in partnership, it can restore trust and confidence in the NHS, despite the mistakes made. But when families are stonewalled and trusts worry more about their reputations than the harm caused, families lose all confidence and can become determined campaigners to prevent harm occurring to someone else.

Members' voices

I was delighted to see so many people turn up to last week’s events. Holding events on topics that matter to patients has been important to me. The pandemic has made events different, but even with those limits we’ve been able to run our focus groups, patient panels and our AGMs to ensure we hear members’ voices and what matters to them.

In 2020, patient campaigners James Titcombe and Nadine Montgomery spoke at our AGM. James’s work has led to national improvements in maternity care and Nadine’s work has changed the law in patient consent. They both talked about not being listened to and, how, when they were heard the difference that makes to improving safe care for patients.

Their work and experiences have inspired our own journey in patient partnership. In 2020, when the Board was discussing our strategic direction, we considered what makes the Patients Association unique: it’s the fact that as a health and care charity we’re non-condition specific and cover all health and care issues. This led us to adopting the ambition to embed patient partnership with patients as equal partners in their care and in the design of health and care services as our five-year strategy.


Focusing on patient partnership has given the Charity a clear objective as to how we can make a difference to patients’ experience of health and care, and where we need to focus our efforts. Since launching our patient partnership strategy, we have created the position of Head of Patient Partnership, and established our lived experience advisory panel, Patient Voices Matter, to understand patients’ day-to-day experience of health and care, and the challenges they face in accessing healthcare. We have also developed our Theory of Change, the roadmap that shows us the steps we need to take to achieve our vision of patients as partners in the design and delivery of health and care.

With the focus on patient partnership, we have also looked at how we partner with patients and our members so members can be more actively engaged in our work. We’ve revised our membership form so members can tell us what areas of our work they’re interested in so that we can be sure to let them know when we’re working on something they may like to take part in.

We also now ask members if they will complete a demographic survey anonymously so we can build up a picture of who and where our membership is. This is helpful to us to understand where geographically, and with which communities we need to work harder to get to know them and involve them in our work.


Since I became Chair in 2018, I have worked with the other Trustees and staff to ensure the Patients Association is a strong, credible and trusted voice for patients. To achieve this, we have developed collaborative relationships with other charities, organisations that represent health and social care professionals, and with the NHS. These efforts have paid off in the consultations we’ve been invited to take part in and forums we’re members of where we provide a voice for patients.

I step down from the role of Chair just before we’re 60. I am excited by what we have achieved for patients in the last few years and the huge potential impact of patient partnership across health and care. I am optimistic that the networks we are making with other charities and diverse communities will create a stronger voice for patients and lead to improvements for all.