How immense is this? 

In conversation with Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patient’s Association during Patient Partnership Week and an accompanying blog too. 

What an honour and opportunity but Imposter Syndrome has set in big time and I’m more than a little nervous.

Since my much-loved lifetime of working ended nearly nine years ago, I have built one of the most rewarding and passion-filled “careers” in patient partnership, championing the benefits of working together with healthcare. But I’m not a bigwig or a big cheese; I genuinely see myself as a wee minnow, floundering in this big sea at times but by heck, I’m trying to be the mightiest minnow I can.

So why is patient partnership so important to me?

For me, it’s everything.

This is my body, my life and anything to do with it, I should absolutely be involved with and part of. Do with me, not to me; together. 

When we work together, we are stronger and have the best chance of best outcomes for all, whether with your own personal healthcare or, as I also engage, with healthcare and the NHS generally, helping to answer the key question of, what is true value to a patient? 

In my own healthcare I am the one constant in everything that happens and while I can, I use my notes, knowledge, understanding to help professionals and that in turn helps me.

What do I say to patients and professionals?

That’s so very simple. This is what works for me: Build relationships by treating each other as you would want to be treated and respect what each person can bring to the table. Wow, what wealth of experience and knowledge there will be when this happens.

Patients, please don’t just pay lip service to, but truly recognise the pressures on our NHS and its staff and show understanding while wanting the best.

Consider what you can do to help; be prepared for appointments, write down your symptoms, have questions you want to ask.

I carry a file around with me and boy, that has helped.

Professionals, recognise patients and relatives as true partners in care, not seen as adversaries to be feared. Introduce yourself. Welcome and involve us.

Patients, always know who you are speaking with and write down  names and roles and make notes or get someone to make notes for you.

You are the only one constant in your healthcare experience.

You can help with communication, as I do.

Professionals, please ensure your patient understands what you’re saying, knows what the next steps are and, crucially, knows who to contact if they don’t hear anything or are concerned. 

Patients, when tests have been done and you haven’t had results, don’t assume, no news is good news. Follow it up. It probably is good news, but the results may have got lost, might not have been sent, seen etc. 

If something doesn’t sound right, look right or feel right, speak up.

Be that extra layer of safety.

In my eyes, patient experience can’t happen without staff experience. Patient safety can’t happen without staff safety.

We are all in this together which is why I believe we need to support and work together for the very best outcomes and experience for all.

We can all be the mightiest of minnows! 

Sara Turle

Sara is joining us during Patient Partnership week. For more details, visit the page for her event.

Photo by Matt Hardy

Photo by Matt Hardy: by Matt Hardy: