Ways of being involved
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is the largest local health system in Scotland - delivering a vast range of services affecting the daily lives of each and every person who lives here.
Every year, there are literally millions of contacts between patients, communities, organisations and NHS staff and other service providers.
It's impossible to detail all of the ways by which patient and public involvement takes place but, broadly, there are:
• Person to person contacts between staff and patients. For patients, a time of illness is an intense, personal experience that can lead to feelings of distress and vulnerability - it's vital that communication and patient information is sensitive and right for these circumstances and that patients feel that they are involved in decisions about their own care.
• People and organised groups acting on behalf of individual patients - sometimes called Patient Advocates. This might simply mean a carer or a parent speaking up for someone, or an organised group looking after the personal or combined needs of particular types of patients. Some patients, such as those with mental health or learning difficulties, do need special assistance to make their needs and views known. The NHS can be a complex beast and some people may need help and guidance in dealing with it.
• Organisations, both voluntary and professional, which exist to provide specific services or to influence policy and service development.
• Community groups, which may not be strictly devoted to health interests, but are able to convey local opinion and needs.
• Formal patient and public forums run in conjunction with the NHS or other bodies like local authorities.
• Consultation and engagement initiatives such as surveys, focus groups and open space events, which are designed to bring forward the views of local people in a structured way.
• Political processes, by which the public votes for parties which in turn put forward policies which set the direction for national and local NHS services - it's not the place of the NHS to set these policies, but to ensure that elected representatives have access to information about the realities of providing services and meeting patient's needs. Patients and members of the public have the right to ask their elected representatives to act as their advocates in addressing what they see as problems or areas needing change within NHS Greater Glasgow.
• Direct engagement of public or patient representatives in panels or steering groups which actually set policy or go about redesigning NHS services.
• Contact made by any one person who has something to say about NHS Greater Glasgow, whether a comment or a complaint.
The 'glue' that holds together all of these ways of involving people is information and communication. Without information, people cannot be aware of the issues, choices or constraints surrounding the NHS.
With awareness, people are in a better position to form opinions on the ways to change and improve NHS services.