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Six months into my Patient & Public Engagement role at NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group and things really are coming together.

A small but very pro-active team of engagement professionals are working tirelessly to make Thanet residents views heard at every level. The new flowchart (above) shows very graphically how people's views will come together to inform service commissioners in the future.

In conjunction with the flowchart, a new comprehensive communications and engagement action plan is now in place and I sincerely hope residents will start to notice the 'gear change' in public involvement this will produce.

The CCG already had a good digital/media presence online and the Thanet Health Network has provided a good forum for residents to have their say. Indeed, last week I was delighted to learn that membership of the network has recently grown to more than 850 local individuals and organisations.

The voluntary / 3rd sector are an ever increasingly valuable resource for local residents and they provide a wide variety of essential services for local people. Thanet CCG recognise the huge benefit they provide for the health and wellbeing of local residents and is making a concerted effort to gauge voluntary sector views and work in partnership wherever possible. Finding the right people or organisations to engage with on any particular subject is a very difficult task when we have such a numerous and diverse range of organisations covering such a wide breadth of local issues. However, we are working on effective ways to involve the relevant voluntary groups as and when issues affect their sphere of work and to create two-way flows of information.

Over the past six months I've also been working my way around the districts GP practices, meeting with their respective Patient Participation Groups. These are groups of patients working with their local practice to make sure that patients are central to everything they do. We recently invited the chairs of all Thanet's PPG's to a 'brainstorming session' looking for even better ways to work together in the future and in January we meet to establish a regular 'reference group' for the CCG to hear the patients views Thanet-wide. These meetings will also provide networking opportunities for the PPG's and thereby help promote best practice.

On a broader note, Thanet CCG also works with neighbouring CCG's in East Kent to provide services for local residents. We also work with Thanet District and Kent County Council through the local Health and Wellbeing Board. The big project currently facing all these organisations is the closer integration of health and social care services, and good communication channels are absolutely essential for that to make real progress.

Kent Healthwatch is also a key engagement partner and we work to support them wherever possible.


Communications and engagement in health service provision is extremely important.

There are seven key principles that guide the NHS in all it does. They are underpinned by core NHS values that have been derived from extensive discussions with staff, patients and the public.

Principle four of the NHS states:

The NHS aspires to put patients at the heart of everything it does.

It should support individuals to promote and manage their own health. NHS services must reflect, and should be coordinated around and tailored to, the needs and preferences of patients, their families and their carers. Patients, with their families and carers where appropriate, will be involved in and consulted on all decisions about their care and treatment. The NHS will actively encourage feedback from the public, patients and staff, welcome it and use it to improve its services.

One of the NHS key values states:

Working together for patients.​

The value of "working together for patients" is a central tenet guiding service provision in the NHS and other organisations providing health services. Patients must come first in everything the NHS does. All parts of the NHS system should act and collaborate in the interests of patients, always putting patient interest before institutional interest, even when that involves admitting mistakes. As well as working with each other, health service organisations and providers should also involve staff, patients, carers and local communities to ensure they are providing services tailored to local needs'.

Clive Hart
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