The Patients Association has published its 2018 annual review.

Looking back on a busy and productive 2018, our annual review includes highlights from our project work, a review of enquiries to our helpline and a look at how we campaigned for improvements to patient safety and patient experience.

Across the three core elements of our work – our helpline, our policy and campaigning work, and our projects to improve patient care – we made great strides in 2018.

Some of our key achievements include improving how our members and the public communicate with us through our new website, and our decision to abolish membership fees, making it free of charge for anyone who wishes to join the Patients Association.

Our membership base has been growing rapidly since we removed the financial barrier to joining. Patients are our members and supporters, and also the people who benefit from our help and advice services, so it is heartening to see more people engaging with our work.

Our helpline is central to our overall mission, and we hear from thousands of people needing support and guidance each year. Our trained helpline team are able to directly advise the majority of callers (66%) on their specific issues, and our team signposts around 1 in 5 people (19%) to a medical, legal or specialist organisation.

96% of people contacting our helpline would recommend the free service to their friends and family members.

Our President, Sir Robert Francis QC, who chaired the public inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire Hospital failings in 2013, spoke at our Annual General Meeting in September 2018 on the topic of ‘Listening to and working with patients−how can healthcare work without them?’ Sir Robert touched on the vital work of volunteers across the health service, and described the Patients Association as “pretty much the only game in town” when it comes to speaking up for patients on issues related to health and social care services.

This progress gives us a firm base on which to build and deliver on our strategy: we will be working to connect and engage with more and more patients in all aspects of our work, to improve and expand our support services for patients, and to achieve progress for patients in an ever-more challenging external environment.

Download our 2018 annual review here.