Improving healthcare for the seldom heard

Our senior ICT advisor, Clodagh Miskelly, is speaking at the annual conference of the NHS Confederation on engaging seldom heard groups in improving the quality of services.
Clodagh will principally be talking about her work on the Beyond Consultation project. Beyond Consultation turned the usual health consultation process on its head – inviting seldom-heard service users to help set the agenda, rather than following a consultation exercise already designed by health providers.
The NHS constitution says that services must reflects the needs of patients and their carers, and the NHS Confederation echoes this.
We all know that it is important to engage service users in designing and improving the quality of health services, and there are NHS organisations regularly engaging and listening to their patients. However there are some people, often the most vulnerable in society, who are in danger of being seldom heard. This session will look at innovative examples of where NHS organisations have actively engaged with, listened to and improved the quality of services for seldom heard groups of people, for example children, older people with dementia and homeless people.
NHS Confederation website
However, practice often lags behind policy. This kind of engagement requires new skills and resources and, in particular, new methods for engaging seldom-heard groups.
Beyond Consultation worked with a group of 12 African women and nine young African men who have sex with men, enabling them to communicate their own priorities to health service providers.
UK National Health Service staff also took part. As a result of their input, we gained a comprehensive insight into the key sexual health and HIV issues facing service providers.
Panos London and Naz Project London also produced a guide for commissioners detailing how to establish a meaningful and effective service user engagement process. The guide is based on the Beyond Consultation method and is particularly intended for the engagement of seldom heard groups.

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