What difference will it make?

Have you ever thought this when you’ve seen a call out for patient feedback? Maybe you think it’s not your experience that they want to hear or that it won’t make a difference?

You have something unique to share. We all do. That’s because, no matter what boxes you tick on a form, we’re all different and your experiences are unique to you.

That means you have something valuable and insightful to share, even if you’re convinced you don’t.


Listening to everyone’s voice and learning from their experiences is vital to have meaningful and effective health and social care services. It’s only by hearing genuine diversity of experience that services can truly be shaped for the people who use them. And that includes you! You have just as important a role to play as anyone else.

Aside from the fact that you have your own important part to play in patient feedback, getting involved could have some other fringe benefits for you too.

Shaping Our Lives has been working with people for many years to make sure everyone can have their say. Over the past 25 years our work with service users has demonstrated the really positive impact that getting involved can have.


Service users have told us that it can be empowering to share your thoughts and ideas and know that you’re helping to shape health services for the better, for everyone who needs them. And even if you have little time to spare, just a few minutes answering a survey or sending in your views can have a positive impact.

If you have a little more time, patient participation groups, for example at your GP surgery or your local hospital, are a great way to get involved and can open the door to a whole new range of experiences and people to meet.

Speaking of new experiences, people have often told us that being able to share your thoughts and make an impact can lead to increased confidence and wellbeing, new friends and networks, and you can gain new knowledge and skills as well. 

Not only this, but connecting with other people and hearing about their experiences can be helpful and informative too – there’s always lots to learn and you may find out things that are beneficial for your own health or conditions you live with.

Take action

Getting involved can have a lot of positive outcomes, for you, for services, and for research too.

To get started, try these next steps:

Read the Patients Association bulletins for latest opportunities
Share your experiences of care with the Care Quality Commission, which inspects and regulates health and social care services in England
Check the opportunities listed on the Shaping Our Lives website: Involvement Opportunities Board - Shaping Our Lives
Ask at your local GP surgery or hospital about their patient participation group (PPG) or patient advisory panels. The Patients Association has resources for PPGs including a toolkit on how to set up and run one
Visit the NHS England Get Involved webpage: NHS England » How to get involved
Look for research studies to get involved in: Be Part of Research (nihr.ac.uk)

By Becki Meakin from Shaping Our Lives
Image by rawpixel.com