Residents are being invited to join a Patients’ Panel to help improve hospital and community care.
Anyone who has been a patient in the last two years is welcome to give their views along with other panel members.
The Patients’ Panel is run by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which provides services on the Fylde coast and North Lancashire.
Led by Helen Kay of the Trust’s Patient Experience Team, the Patients’ Panel’s aim is to enable residents to influence positive changes to services provided by the Trust.
Helen said: “We want patients to take a full and active role in supporting the Trust to achieve great services for the public.
“We are looking for a broad range of patients to be on the panel. We want to hear patients’ voices and to act upon what they say.
“Our staff are experts in care but so are our patients.”
Panel members can be individual users of services, carers, relatives, friends of a patient or from a local voluntary organisation.
Meetings are held every two months and panel members’ responsibilities include helping to determine priorities for local patient surveys and focus groups, taking part in consultations and appraising information for patients that is produced by the Trust.
Panel members can also help to organise or attend events to raise issues, advise the Trust on issues of concern regarding service provision and participate in the education and recruitment of staff.
Helen said: “Our panel members are very vocal people and they are passionate about improving patient care. Some are former employees of the Trust who want to give something back.
“We’d like to hear from people of all ages (18 and over) and all backgrounds. We would especially welcome young people to the group so we can have a wide variety of views. We will try to organise meetings so that people who are working can come along. We can pay reasonable travel expenses.”
Judith Butterworth from Blackpool, a Patients’ Panel member and former senior midwife from the Trust, said: “I had been involved in a complaint about my partner and after a meeting I was told that the input I gave was very good.
“I was asked if I would consider doing a video and after that I heard about the Patients’ Panel.
“I spoke to Helen who invited me along to a Patients’ Panel meeting to see if I would like it
“The first meeting was very interesting – we were talking about revamping Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s Outpatients’ entrance.
“I gave feedback on that and, being a former midwife, I asked what they were doing in terms of provision for breastfeeding. I suggested that they should speak to the Trust’s breastfeeding co-ordinator.”
Judith started working with the Trust in 1964 and worked for the organisation off and on for 40 years.
She said: “As I have been bereaved, it has given me something else to think about.
“I think people should try to be involved in their local hospital. You can have your say and it’s good for the whole community.
“If you can contribute, why not come along to a meeting to see if you like it.”
Patient Panel member, Julie Garner from Blackpool, has a background in health and education. She has been on the panel for two years and enjoys helping to bring about a better health care system for patients.
Julie said: “I joined the panel after talking to other members while they were doing a survey on the care of a patient while in hospital.
“It is interesting and good to put points over that you feel will help a patient and also to talk to other members of staff working at this hospital.
“Join us if you would like to see better care all round in the NHS.”
Frank Booth from Blackpool is a former member of Trust staff and a patient with several long-term conditions.
Frank likes to get involved in things that particularly interest him and enjoys helping the Trust with any difficulties.
He said it helps if panel members are able to take a long-term view of issues as change isn’t always swift.
He added: “If you accept this, then time on the panel will be fulfilling and interesting and a help to both future patients and the Trust.
“Just go for it. There’s no point sitting as an outsider grumbling but offering ways forward. It is not about your issues but for all staff and patients. Simply help us to make a good Trust the best.”
Geoffrey Hopkins from Blackpool joined the panel in July 2015 to help improve patients’ experiences.
He said: “I enjoy the discussion of issues. It is interesting and it has given me an understanding of the problems facing the Trust.”
Carol Neale from Blackpool said the panel was welcoming and committed to improving patient care.
She said: “I attended the first meeting of the panel. I had seen details of the panel in an article and I thought it was something that I would like to be involved in as I had spent quite a lot of time at Victoria Hospital as a carer for a close relative.
“We discuss issues that affect patients and carers. Many are brought to us by staff from different departments who want to know about the effect of publications and ways of working on patients.
“It involves a meeting every two months and sometimes a sub group in between meetings. The information that comes to the panel can be quite challenging and all the members are extremely committed and want to ensure the best outcomes for patients.
“I hope it will achieve a better experience for patients and their carers.”
The Patient Experience Team is also looking for people to become ‘Listeners’ for the Trust. ‘The Listeners’ go out onto wards and into clinics to gather confidential feedback from patients.
They have a list of set questions and gather feedback that is used to improve services.
For further information on joining the Patients’ Panel or on becoming one of ‘The Listeners’ please contact Helen Kay on 01253 955520 or email: Helenm.firstname.lastname@example.org