Welcome to the Patients Association Weekly News
Patients Association at HSJ Digital Transformation Summit
Yesterday our Chief Executive, Rachel Power, joined a panel of experts at the Health Service Journal’s (HSJ) Digital Transformation Summit to discuss the implemention of the NHS Long Term Plan. The annual HSJ event focuses on the innovations taking place across the country that will shape the NHS of the future, with topics at this year’s conference exploring how data can improve patient safety, barriers to adopting new technology, and achieving staff acceptance to new ways of working.

Joining Rachel on the panel were Carrie MacEwen, (Chair, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges), Sam Shah, (Director of Digital Development, NHS England) and Julian Hartley (Chief Executive, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust). The panel discussed the NHS Long Term Plan and how it could be translated into action to benefit patients.

Rachel shared the Patients Association’s view, saying that shortcomings outside the plan itself meant that on its own the plan would be unable to safeguard the future of the health and social care system. Rachel pointed out that the Long Term Plan is not part of a wider strategy, with workforce development, social care and capital expenditure glaring omissions that need to be addressed. While the plan does have its strengths, patient engagement is mentioned only once within the Long Term Plan – and even that only in passing – in the phrase ‘local communities and delivery partners’.

Rachel concluded by challenging delegates, many of whom were Chief Executives and senior officers within the NHS, to better engage and involve patients in the local delivery of the Long Term Plan. You can catch up on our response to the NHS Long Term Plan here.
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Medical examiner training session - giving the patient perspective
Medical examiners ensure accurate death certification, ensure the correct cases are referred to the coroner, and provide much-needed support for bereaved families. Medical examiners can be senior doctors from any specialty, so long as they complete 26 separate training modules online and attend face-to-face training.

Our Chair, Lucy Watson, attended a training session for medical examiners in Cardiff this week, sharing the patient perspective with doctors. Lucy spoke about the importance of communicating clearly and openly with people who are bereaved, and discussed how to approach interactions with bereaved people, including faith considerations, the death of a child and objections to the cause of death.
Help to shape future care: Our survey on 'Photo at Discharge' 
The Patients Association, in collaboration with Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, is conducting a survey to explore people’s thoughts on ‘Photo at Discharge’ (PaD).

A PaD is a photograph taken by a nurse or other healthcare professional of a patient’s wound at the point of their discharge from hospital. The photograph is then given to the patient or carer with the aim of providing a clear assessment of the wound for the patient’s records and the healthcare provider(s). The photo can help to monitor the healing process, identify any changes in the wound, and can help avoid the unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics.

PaD has received positive local feedback at hospitals that offer it to patients, and the scheme is inviting patients and members of the public nationally to share their views. Do you think having a colour photo of your wound on the day you leave hospital would be beneficial to you? Do you feel it should be standard practice for all patients who have had surgery?

You can find out more about the scheme and complete the short survey here.
Complete the survey
Patient representative sought for new initiative
The Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA), the body responsible for the specialty of anaesthesia in the UK, is inviting applications for a Patient Representative to join the Board of the Centre for Perioperative Care (CPOC). CPOC is a new initiative that brings together specialists from different medical backgrounds to improve patient safety. It aims to facilitate closer and more effective cross-organisational working through a multi-disciplinary team approach.

The RCoA is seeking an enthusiastic and committed individual to represent the patient voice on the CPOC Board.  The ideal candidate will be someone who is familiar with the wider healthcare landscape and can demonstrate collaborative engagement with colleagues or stakeholders at board level. The Patient Representative will ideally join the Board in July 2019 with participation in quarterly board meetings and ad hoc projects.

The deadline for applications is Sunday 5 May 2019. More information on the role can be found here.

BMA seeking new members for its Patient Liaison Group
The British Medical Association (BMA), the voice of doctors and medical students in the UK, is looking to recruit four new lay members to its Patient Liaison Group (PLG). The PLG provides the BMA with an informed patient view on critical matters of interest to the profession, and to patients.

Successful applicants will have an active interest in influencing health policy and working to improve patient care. You should be IT literate with previous experience of working on, or with, committees and a broad understanding of the NHS and the role of doctors in the UK. More information on the role can be found here.
More information
ICYMI: Patients Association up for national awards
The Patients Association has been shortlisted for the 2019 Charity Governance Awards. The Charity Governance Awards celebrates outstanding governance in charities in the UK, and the Patients Association is one of the finalists in the ‘Managing Turnaround’ category. Dementia UK and Dorset Mind complete the shortlist for this category, with 21 charities in total in the running for awards across seven categories.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on 22 May, with £5,000 to be awarded to the winning charity in each category. You can follow the awards on Twitter via @CharityGovAwards or by using the hashtag #charitygov19.

You can find out more about the awards, and read our shortlisted entry, here.
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From the helpline: private treatment costs
This week we heard from Suraj, who contacted us seeking advice about his private treatment plan. Suraj, who is covered by a medical insurance scheme where his private provider pays 70% of medical costs and he pays 30%, was surprised to receive an invoice from a private hospital following treatment. Suraj was invoiced £1,400 for a blood test that would have been free of charge on the NHS. Suraj was unhappy with the charge and contacted our helpline to find out whether he was entitled to make a complaint.

Our helpline adviser informed Suraj that any charge levied by a private healthcare provider is at their discretion. Our adviser also said that, as the private healthcare sector is a marketplace, we advise patients to consider the likely cost of tests, procedures and treatments ahead of their decision to go with a private provider.

We advised Suraj to raise his concerns about the charge informally in the first instance with the hospital. Our adviser checked the Independent Sector Complaints Adjudication Service (ISCAS) website, and found that the private hospital was a subscriber of the adjudication service. We signposted Suraj to ISCAS, and to their leaflet on making a complaint, which has been reviewed and supported by the Patients Association. We also directed Suraj to the complaints resources on our website, and recommended that he share his experiences with the Care Quality Commission.

We asked Suraj to keep us updated with developments and to get in touch if he required any more information. If you need health or care advice, call 0208 423 8999 between 9.30 and 5pm on weekdays, or email

*Name has been changed
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What our team is reading this week
Opioid crisis driven by 'inappropriate prescription' of painkillers to surgery patients
Give women more consistent abortion service, NHS told
One in 10 child asthma cases 'linked to traffic pollution'
Curtains in patients' rooms often rife with drug-resistant germs – study
Therapy over phone or online could help people with IBS – study

About Us

Our vision is that health and social care will be delivered in a way that meets every person’s health and social care needs.

Our mission is to give effect to the patient voice, to improve patient experience and support people to engage fully in their own care. Find out more about our values on our website

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The Patients Association is a registered charity in England and Wales (1006733).  A company limited by guarantee.  Registered company in England and Wales (02620761)
Registered address:  P Block, Northwick Park Hospital, The North West Hospitals NHS Trust, Watford Road, Harrow, Middlesex, HA1 3YJ