Belfast Telegraph

Monday 15 September 2014

Call to give patients 'more power'

Lord Crisp said patient satisfaction should play a greater role in setting the income of hospitals and GP practices

Patients should be given greater power over their care, including the ability to own their medical records and representation at every level of NHS management, a former senior health official has said.

Lord Crisp, who was NHS chief executive between 2000 and 2006, also said patient satisfaction should play a greater role in setting the income of hospitals and GP practices.

He insisted giving people more power must become "the new top priority for the NHS" but too often it "feels as if patients are inmates".

Lord Crisp's plan, set out in the Sunday People, would allow patients to own their medical records, which would be accessible through a confidential internet link instead of the current bureaucratic process.

If patients owned their records they could see whether they had received the right treatment or use the information to seek a second opinion.

Setting out plans to empower patients, Lord Crisp said recent scandals such as Mid Staffordshire had shown the importance of listening to those who were being treated.

Under his proposals all NHS staff would be required to know the importance of listening to patients' wishes.

"It is desperately sad that patients have not been listened to," he said. "As a result I feel very strongly that we now have to change the balance of power in the NHS. We all know what it is like to feel powerless as patients when we are dealing with busy doctors and nurses who know so much more than we do. But we still need to be listened to and to be able to ask all the questions we want. Giving patients more power must become the new top priority for the NHS."

Under the plan patient representatives would sit at each level of management, organising satisfaction surveys on the performance of GPs' surgeries and hospitals. Those performing well would get more money from taxpayers and those doing badly would be penalised by getting less.

Lord Crisp said: "Patients need to be on the top of the power pyramid, not at the bottom. They need to have teeth. What was shocking when you look at Mid Staffordshire was that they were not listened to." He added: "As Professor Don Berwick, the US health expert who led the review into patient safety after the Mid Staffordshire crisis, has said, professionals 'are guests in their patients' lives'. It too often feels as if patients are inmates."

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