Patient and staff opinions are vital in any debate on services

In the current climate of emergency care, excluding those at the heart of the NHS is unacceptable.

In the current climate of emergency care, excluding those at the heart of the NHS is unacceptable

The spirit of public involvement maintains that the NHS consults with patients, carers and the public in a collaborative way. So listening to and acting on feedback is important when planning, redesigning or reconfiguring services.

The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 paved the way for increased citizen empowerment, local partnership and greater influence on decisions that affect local communities. It imposed a duty on local authorities to make contractual arrangements for the involvement of people in the commissioning, provision and scrutiny of publicly-funded health and social care services.

It is interesting then to note the Royal College of Emergency Medicine’s concerns regarding lack of consultation with staff and patients during the recent development of the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) in the NHS. STPs are designed for health and social care leaders to work together to improve care and manage finite resource.

Service-user involvement

This strong statement challenges the ‘wholly unacceptable’ practice of excluding those at the heart of the NHS such as service users who should always be involved throughout the whole process for their interests to be best served.

Staff should also remain engaged and be consulted on issues affecting the patients to whom they provide care and support.

In a climate of increasing care complexity coupled with resource poor conditions, it is vital that patients and staff voices are central to any debate about services.

Nowhere is this felt more keenly than in the current climate of emergency care.

About the author

Tricia Scott is principal lecturer and emergency care research lead at the Centre for Research in Primary and Community Care, University of Hertfordshire, and consultant editor of Emergency Nurse

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