An introduction from the Chair – My journey to the People’s Board

Welcome all to our new webpage!

As a way of getting to know me and how the People’s Board came to be, I thought it might be nice to share my own personal journey with you all.

It makes sense to first explain to you the reason why I chose to volunteer within the health service. I have epilepsy, which first presented aged 13 and invariably this has meant a need to access health services; whether that be my GP, neurologist, epilepsy nurse (what an angel!) or urgent and inpatient care via the hospital. In addition to this I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis at aged 25. Not all my experiences in accessing services have been positive, although I would like to point out I have had some excellent care too. These experiences made me wonder if there was anything I could do as a patient to become more involved in the decisions made around my health.

Back in the summer of 2013 (how time flies!) I went to my very first Patient Participation Group (PPG) meeting at my local GP surgery, Shipley Medical Practice. Not long before, the practice had merged its PPG with a nearby practice so we have a joint group with Westcliffe Medical Practice. The group is only small but has some consistent members who support and advise the practice on the patient perspective, assisting with the creation of action plans, surveys and health promotion events. I have been Chair of the group for approximately four years now and it is still very much a challenge! We are always on the look out for new members, that’s one of our biggest challenges. We would like to have a more diverse patient view so we can contribute effectively and have more time to dedicate to projects decided by the PPG. We’ve also recently been trying to unpick that age-old question ‘what exactly is a PPG?’ in the hope this will help us be more effective. Keep your fingers crossed!

Volunteering my time with the Patient Participation Group led me to become involved with the Patient Network which brings together representatives from all GP practice PPG’s across Bradford. I joined the Patient Network as a way of getting support to improve my PPG, share ideas and I hoped to have more of a say on services commissioned by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). It has been a great opportunity to find out more about what’s happening with health services locally, and gain information on health specific projects such as Bradford Beating Diabetes and self-care initiatives. The network has been chaired by a lovely patient volunteer who has recently stepped down – Some big shoes to fill! Almost most importantly, I have made links with other PPG members and also gained some wonderful friends!

You might be wondering why I have made mention of all of this but without this journey, I wouldn’t have arrived at the People’s Board. My time with my PPG and the Patient Network led to a greater understanding of the health system and an identified gap for patients to truly influence decisions made about their health. Along with 15 other (amazing!) people from across Bradford City and Districts, I feel privileged to have been part of the creation of Bradford People’s Board and I am honoured to be its inaugural Chair. The Board has a role to ensure the patient voice is heard and provides a voice to help shape and influence decisions made by commissioners about health services, to ensure decision-makers understand the needs and experiences of local people and services commissioned that meet those needs. We have been able to provide feedback on areas of work including the development of Bradford’s Mental Wellbeing strategy and we are now identifying three key areas of work to focus on over the next 12 months (you’ll hear more about that soon!) The development of the People’s Board has been a real step forward in understanding the value that patient’s views can have in shaping health services.  However, there’s still lots more work to do!

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