Stop Kicking the Cat

According to David Gilbert, author of the Future Patient Blog, there is an opportunity to make radical changes in the area of healthcare. This requires that people, including patients and the general public, are given their rightful responsibilities and accountability. Gilbert maintains that patients can help to improve the healthcare system. However, for this to occur, the manner in which patients are viewed, treated and the understanding and approach of patient engagement must be changed.

We do not live in normal healthcare times of course. The pressures on healthcare delivery in a changing society seem not be accompanied by any coherent vision of how to cope with those changes. The desperation for a new sense of order and the tendency to kick the cat seems actually to be increasing. Though national agencies may talk of letting go, the sense of grip and pressure felt at a local level is intense. Polarisation and power battles are inevitable.

I believe that patients can help.

Patients can be true partners for improvement and change. They can help identify what matters, rethink problems, generate solutions, model better relationships, promote better decisions and improve practice. (see, The Seven Things That Patients Bring). But, at the moment we are all hamstrung by bad habits.

The way we think about patients’ contributions is stuck in a time warp, our mindset constrained by an outmoded view of what patients can bring (or cannot). Moreover, the way we do patient and public engagement is not working – it fails to have any real impact because it is outmoded and unfit for purpose. In part, it was never designed to bring real change, but to buffer it and maintain the status quo. Now, if we really want solutions to our current healthcare challenges, this all needs to change.

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