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Parliament hears patients’ views on the transformation of the NHS

N.A.P.P. gives evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Primary Care and Public Health

The National Association for Patient Participation (N.A.P.P.), the national voice for patient participation in Primary Care, has given evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group’s Inquiry into the Five Year Forward View. The Five Year Forward View emphasises the importance of local community assets being part of the change solution. PPGs are a critical local community asset and we believe they can play an important, unique, role in helping primary care engage with its community.

The Inquiry was particularly interested in the expectations on us all – as patients – to change our own behaviour and to take more responsibility for our health. It also wanted to know what helps make information and signposting to services more effective.

Through a survey of primarily N.A.P.P. members, we gathered the views of over 2,300 patients. This was translated into a short piece of written evidence for the Inquiry Group. N.A.P.P.’s President and Chairman, Dr Patricia Wilkie, and Chief Executive Officer, Paul Devlin, presented our evidence to the Inquiry on 14th December.

Our evidence showed that:

  • 83% of responders are members of a PPG, so representing a local community voice
  • 96% of patients say they themselves are the person most responsible for sustaining and improving their health and self care
  • 95% of patients regard the use of plain English (and similar in other languages) as the most important factor in making information clear
  • 88% of patients identify GPs as a key source of trusted health advice

Our survey confirms that patients are well-aware of key behavioural changes that impact positively on physical and mental health and wellbeing, including stopping smoking, exercising more, and reducing alcohol and sugar consumption. Such patient awareness is a critical part of successful prevention strategies helping people sustain their health and wellbeing.

N.A.P.P. presented ten key messages, reflecting the feedback we had gathered:

  1. For the Five Year Forward View to be successfully implemented, patients must be at the centre of the changes that are needed
  2. In order for patients to be able to take responsibility for their own physical and mental health and wellbeing, accurate, understandable information must be available
  3. GP surgeries are a key community asset and resource point for information, particularly as a patient’s GP surgery is likely to be a place they are familiar with
  4. The information provided in surgeries (and elsewhere) must be accessible, and written in “plain English” (and plainly in other languages too) and dated
  5. Written information should be complemented with opportunities for patients to discuss health changes with appropriately informed people, including GPs, other health care professionals and, for some, other patients with similar health conditions
  6. As a large proportion of the population is proactive in using web-based resources that can give conflicting, often inaccurate, advice and information, enabling a “quality mark” for web-based material would go some way to complement other sources of information
  7. Prevention and self care messages need to be consistent, but must be delivered through a variety of communication tools such as face to face discussions with GPs and other health professionals, written and visual information (leaflets, posters, web-based resources), advertising (TV, on public transport, in public spaces), and via social media platforms, to ensure people are not unintentionally excluded from information
  8. There is a balancing act between providing information through a range of tools and the risk of “information overload”. This can be helped by the use of specific issue campaigns like the Act F.A.S.T. campaign on stroke awareness
  9. Early intervention on preventive actions is critical, and schools have an important role to play in helping young people understand their personal health responsibilities and how to take preventive actions for their physical and mental health
  10. Legislation can be an important tool to provide part of the conditions for behavioural change, but is one that should not be used in isolation of other tools, including those focusing on positive rationales for behaviour change.

Dr Wilkie said “I am pleased that we were able to give the Inquiry such a strong patients’ perspective on some of the proposals in the Five Year Forward View. Patients are clear that they themselves are the person most responsible for sustaining and improving their health and self care. However, they need support and help in this. Critically, information for patients must be in plain English (and similar in other languages), and should be supported by other forms of information, including face-to-face contact with GPs, accurate web-based information, and advertising campaigns. In addition, it is critical that the NHS and local government involve and work with patients and the public in discussions, negotiations and decisions in relation to health and social care. The All Party Parliamentary Group was very interested in what we, as the national voice for patient participation in Primary Care, had to say on behalf of our members, and I’d like to thank everyone who took part in our survey.”

You can read our written evidence to the Inquiry here:


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