This week, the Patients Association celebrates 60 years of listening to patients and speaking up for change.

Watching our founder, teacher Helen Hodgson’s TV interview from 1968, I am struck by how some of her concerns remain the Association’s concerns today – safety, rights, and ethics.


Helen was talking in a very different time and the NHS then wasn’t in the crisis it is now. While most people remain positive about the NHS as a system, no one is happy with the fact patients are being treated in corridors and patients can’t be sure if they call for an ambulance, one will come in time.

That is why we wrote to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay, earlier this month demanding the Government acts now to protect patient safety by declaring a national incident in the NHS (you can read the letter to the Secretary of State here).

We also reminded the Secretary of State that we are still waiting for the promised workforce strategy. We want immediate action taken to protect patients during this current crisis, but we also expect the Government to manage the NHS so that it returns to a position where it provides care of an expected standard.

This will need money and we believe other Governmental departments’ work needs to be linked to that of the NHS, as areas like housing, education and welfare, all influence patients’ health.


We also believe discussion about how the health and social care system is funded needs to be re-framed so that we think about it from the patient’s point of view. The Government and NHS need to understand the current crisis in terms of patients’ involvement in their care and what they experience while being cared for.

We call patients being involved in their care, shared decision making, which is a part of patient partnership. And we believe patient partnership is good for patients and good for the health and social care system.

Our strategy focuses on embedding patient partnership across the health and social system. To us, a strategy of patient partnership is a natural evolution of those original themes of safety, rights, and ethics that Helen was thinking about when she founded the Patients Association in 1963.


We believe patients partnering with the healthcare professionals who care for them leads to safe care and results in outcomes that are good for the patient and good for the system, delivered in a manner that is respectful.

We believe that now, more than ever before, patient partnership is essential to the recovery of the health and social care system over the long term.


Watch the 1968 interview with founder Helen Hodgson and share the link.

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 Published 23rd January 2023