A recent primary care webinar emphasised the urgent need for a significant shift in public involvement and community engagement within the NHS.
Over 260 colleagues followed Dr Mohit Venkataram, ELFT Executive Lead for Primary Care, and Olivia Butterworth, Former Deputy Director for People and Communities at NHS England, via social media and 120 people actively engaged via Zoom, making the session a resounding success.
Guest speaker, Olivia Buttwerworth, pointed out the inadequacies in the current consultative approach within the NHS that has led to an erosion of public trust. She urged a shift towards meaningful engagement and co-designing health services with communities, instead of a deficit-based system that overlooks individuals' unique circumstances.
Promising solutions suggested included the adoption of a partnership model, leveraging cooperation among local government, voluntary sector, and community organisations. This model was inspired by the collaborative spirit demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) were a central focus, with a call for a shift from a transactional to a community-oriented approach.
The session highlighted key principles for fostering effective community engagement:
- Avoid Acronyms: Use clear, accessible language to ensure everyone can understand and contribute.
- Active Listening: Genuine listening to understand the sentiments and needs of the community.
- Go to People: Engage with communities where they feel most comfortable, in their own environment.
- Recognise Individuality: Acknowledge the diverse experiences, backgrounds, and needs of individuals.
- Work with the Community: Collaborate with existing community groups for more meaningful conversations.
- Empower People: Give people the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes and express their needs.
- Involve Everyone: Encourage participation from all stakeholders, including staff at all levels, patients, and the public.
The session also highlighted the crucial role of senior leadership in fostering public involvement. The East London Foundation Trust was hailed as a sterling example, where active community participation transformed it into an outstanding institution.
The speakers also urged leveraging existing local community networks for improved engagement to help better understand community needs and address healthcare services gaps proactively.
The webinar underscored the need for a paradigm shift in community engagement within the NHS. It highlighted the power of community participation in fostering tangible change and improving healthcare services.
The upcoming session featuring Sean O'Kelly, the new Chief Inspector of CQC for Primary Care is on 21 June 2023. Register now >