NHSX to appoint citizens to act as ‘patient voice’

Tech organisation seeks to bring in two part-time advisors to help make services as useful and accessible as possible

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NHSX is seeking to appoint two citizens as part-time advisors to help ensure “the patient voice is properly built into everything we do”.

A blog post from chief executive Matthew Gould revealed that the organisation is seeking to work with people who can consult with NHSX during the conception, design, and development of new services. The duo will be expected to “hold us to account on how we involve patients and citizens, and make sure that patients’ voices are heard at every level of our work”, he said.

He pointed to the NHS website and the NHS app as two examples of how “user-led design” can help create better and more effective products. These services incorporated user feedback in deciding on the website’s layout and language, according to Gould, as well as conducting rigorous testing to ensure they were accessible to everyone, regardless of any physical or cognitive conditions.

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“But we have not been consistent enough in how we involve patients,” he said “So, we are missing an opportunity to make our services as useful as possible.”

Gould added: “Getting this right really matters, especially as we move to a world where patients increasingly become active drivers of their own health, rather than passive recipients of care.”

An event in September in which NHSX and NHS Digital staff met with patient representatives helped the organisations draw up a “patient involvement playbook” – a 13-page document providing guidance for digital teams on how best to engage with citizens during the service-design process.

Gould picked out five key principles that inform the playbook: involve patients at every stage of the design process; representatives at all seniority levels of an organisation should place import on patients’ feedback; existing networks of citizens groups and charities should be valued; patients should be engaged with specific problems or queries; draw up a patient-engagement plan at the outset of developing a new digital service.

“This is an evolving piece of work, and I’m keen for as many people as possible to feed in from a patient or carer perspective,” he added. “I’m also determined that NHSX starts living these principles as an organisation.”

Applications for the two roles – which will be paid at a rate of £150 a day for a total of about 24 days work each year – are open until 29 November.


Sam Trendall

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