What is Brent Patient Voice?
Brent Patient Voice (BPV) is a new organisation which aims to bring together individuals, patient groups and others to express independent views to those who plan and provide health and social care in the Borough.
Our style is to promote dialogue, not confrontation. We are convinced that better results are achieved in health and social care if individuals are treated as partners in the planning and delivery of their own care. We strongly believe that, in this era of rapid change and pressure on resources, the perspective of patients and the public needs to be fully integrated into care planning and delivery at the community and borough level.
Our approach is to encourage planners and providers to see their duties to involve and consult the public not as burdens or “tick box” requirements but as a genuine opportunity to secure improved results.
One of the biggest challenges faced by the NHS and Brent Council is effective communication about what they are trying to do with the limited resources they have. To communicate successfully requires finding the right people and groups to speak with. It means using language which is informative but not patronising. Therefore we ask for openness and honesty on the part of the planners and providers. We want them to tell it as it is and to treat the public as a grown up partners. For our part we accept the need to adapt to changing demands and resources and do not expect the status quo to be kept at all costs.
BPV plans to tread lightly, using mainly electronic or postal communications, and working through volunteers. It has a constitution as an independent non-partisan not-for-profit unincorporated voluntary body and will move to elections for its Steering Group in due course.
Why is BPV needed to bring together and articulate the concerns of the various Brent patient and voluntary groups in the health and social care sector now?
This can be answered at two levels. Nationally local authorities, including their social services, are facing huge reductions in central government grant, while the new Chief of NHS England has confirmed that the Health Service will have a £30 billion shortfall over the next five years without major changes in the way care is provided. At the same time the birth rate is high and the number of elderly people with special care needs is growing rapidly. Coping with this situation cannot be left to the professionals or to sloganizing politicians. It needs the contribution of people who experience the services at the sharp end.
Secondly the Brent Clinical Commissioning Group, who plan and fund most local health services (except for GPs), are dismantling their EDEN (Engagement and Equalities) Committee which consists of community representatives and elected chairs of 5 locality patient participation groups (PPGs). At the same time they are moving towards withdrawing support for these locality PPGs. Meanwhile NHS England are requiring all GPs to have a practice-based PPG from next April. In Brent some practices do have them whilst others do not. We believe that there is a strong case for promoting and supporting PPGs at practice and locality level and for creating a unified patient voice at Borough level.
Who can join BPV?
BPV welcomes individuals registered as patients in Brent or their carers, as well as other residents and those who work here. All practice-based and locality Patient Participation Groups will be encouraged to join, as will voluntary health and social care groups and other community groups.