Last autumn, we formed our lived experience advisory panel, Patient Voices Matter (PVM).

It is a diverse group whose members share their experiences of health and social care, and together we discuss how things can be improved in the NHS for all patients. The Patients Association wants to learn how we can improve patient partnership and we have already learnt a lot, mainly about accessibility. You can read an overview of what we've learned here.

I wanted to share an update on what the group have recently talked about and what we have done to support with that. I'll provide further updates over the coming months.

Complaints

The group wanted to know about the complaints procedure and how they can complain. The Patients Association has extensive information on this on our website, so I directed them to the complaints webpage as well as to our helpline, who are very knowledgeable about this can provide free advice to anyone. The helpline also provides a service for patients to report their experience of services to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) as we partner with them on the regulator's Tell Us Your Care initiative. One of our members recently had a negative experience and so we are ensuring that the helpline can support them with reporting that.

Counselling

One of our PVM members is frustrated that apart from going through your GP – which our member did not want to do – there is no obvious free or cheap counselling services for autistic people. I had a search and found some possible options to pass back to them to try.

Getting to know eachother

PVM want to meet all Patients Association colleagues just as much as the staff want to meet them, and so we will ensure that we can all meet to learn about one another over the next few months. Additionally many of the group are keen on writing a blog and so with the support of our Heads of Communication and Marketing, Maya Anaokar, hopefully these will be published over the past few months. You can read the ones we've published here.

Accessibility

Lastly we have had ongoing discussions about how inaccessible letters from healthcare professionals are for patients. I have recently started working with Nottinghamshire CCG on shared decision making resources and part of this will be looking at designing a template letter for healthcare professionals to send to patients. I will share PVM’s suggestions to Notts and when the letter is finalised, I will share with PVM.