The Patients Association works to amplify patient voices amongst key decision makers, including in Parliament. The main channel through which we ensure Parliamentarians hear the perspective of patients is through the two All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) that the Patients Association coordinate. APPGs include MPs and Peers from the government and the opposition, and meet regularly to discuss issues of interest to the members. Whilst not having the power to change legislation, the diverse political nature of the APPG’s membership means that key issues can be brought to the attention of all the major parties as well as the press and other important organisations.
The Patients Association works with the chairs and members of the two APPGs we coordinate to identify topical patient-related issues that are of interest to the members and which patient input would be valuable. The Patients Association then contacts charities, healthcare providers, NHS institutions, healthcare regulators, academics, patient groups and any other relevant organization or individual to collect submissions on the issue. Using the many submissions we receive, a report on the issue is then produced and discussed by MPs and Peers at a meeting of the APPG alongside invited healthcare professionals, patients, and other lay experts. After the meeting, parliamentarians take the new perspectives and information and use it to influence policy change in their parties and legislative change through the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Throughout this process, the Patients Association provide specific and detailed information and policy advice to these parliamentarians, ensuring that they are constantly well-informed of the patient perspective for important votes and debates.
APPG on Patient and Public Involvement
The APPG for Patient and Public Involvement in Health and Social Care is launching an inquiry into the impacts of the government’s key policy agenda of devolution, including the devolving of health and social care responsibilities to local areas.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Patient and Public Involvement in Health and Social Care, chaired by John Pugh MP, discusses the variety of issues in the broad area of the involvement of both patients and the public in the commissioning, delivery and evaluation of health and social care by the NHS and other care providers. In 2015, the APPG started to gather evidence for an inquiry looking into the ways complaints are handled in the NHS and the social care sector. This inquiry builds on research conducted by the Patients Association which found high levels of dissatisfaction with the complaints process with patients frequently encountering unhelpful and defensive staff, complicated procedures to negotiate and sometimes dishonest replies.
APPG on Patient Safety
At any point in time, more than three million people in the UK are either malnourished or at risk of malnutrition, costing an estimated £13 billion each year. NICE published guidance in 2012 (QS24) which sets out the importance of screening for the risk of malnutrition by health and social care professionals, through a validated screening tool. However, awareness about nutritional support from primary care remains low amongst the public.
The APPG will look at how to ensure that screening for malnutrition is undertaken, and how patient outcomes and experience could be improved through earlier identification and treatment of malnutrition.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Patient Safety, chaired by Andrea Jenkyns MP, discusses the many issues relating to the safety of patients in the NHS. In 2015 – 2016, the APPG conducted a year-long inquiry into Anti-Microbial Resistance, Anti-Microbial Stewardship and Infection Control. Over the course of four meetings, members of the APPG heard from various experts, culminating in the production of a final report.