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Your local general hospital needs you: Join the Patient Panel at Princess Alexandra and help improve patient experience



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Diane Deane-Bowers, vice chair of the award-winning Patient Panel at the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, on why it is keen to attract new blood...

Nine years ago, the Francis Report recommended that every hospital should have a group of patients to represent the voice of the people who use, or are potential users of, the hospital. Soon afterwards, the Patient Panel was instigated at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow.

Over the years we have spread our sphere of influence at the hospital and last year we were delighted to be awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

The Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust Patient Panel in 2020. Picture: Vikki Lince
The Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust Patient Panel in 2020. Picture: Vikki Lince

During a recent inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the Patient Panel was classified as “outstanding”, which has been very rewarding for so many members of the panel, who give so much of their time to improve the patient experience.

Much of our success is attributable to the excellent relationship we have with staff and senior management, who use us as a sounding board for their initiatives.

We are in a very rewarding and privileged position, and as the deadline for construction of the new hospital approaches, it will be a wonderful opportunity to influence vital decisions in the care provided.

PAH Patient Panel chair Ann Nutt. Picture: Vikki Lince
PAH Patient Panel chair Ann Nutt. Picture: Vikki Lince

Unfortunately, we are a mature group and many of us have been, and are still, users of the hospital services. Some of us are also carers, which impinges on the time we can spend on the ever-increasing workload.

We would love to make our panel younger and more diverse so we are now on a recruitment drive.

We would like to have a two-tier system of members which might attract people with other commitments.

Firstly, we wish to recruit a group of people to represent the needs of the ordinary patient. Your contact details would be held on a secure database and you might be required to attend several virtual forums a year. There are no DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) checks, no formal requirements other than you must be a potential user of the service. There is minimal commitment for maximum effect.

PAH Patient Panel vice chair Diane Deane-Bowers. Picture: Vikki Lince
PAH Patient Panel vice chair Diane Deane-Bowers. Picture: Vikki Lince

Perhaps you are a Year 12 or 13 student considering a career in the NHS, whether medical or administrative. This might be a very convenient way of learning about the workings of your local hospital before you become the patient of the future. It might also impress university selectors as evidence of your social awareness.

We have been fortunate over the years to have had three university students working with us during their summer break and during lockdown, and we have benefitted from their vigour and insights.

The second role would require more commitment. We are looking for energetic and passionate people to join our team and the expectation is that you would be available for several hours a month. This would include attendance at Teams meetings, commenting on policy, helping with the annual conference and raising awareness days, and some hospital attendance within Covid restrictions. This will require you to have a DBS check and some training (not too demanding).

If you are interested, please contact us via the links below and we would love to meet you informally to provide you with more details about this important and rewarding position.

As we look forward to a happier and healthier 2022, a New Year resolution to serve your community in such an exciting way might be just the focus you need.

Most of us have clapped the NHS workers and have valued their commitment and selfless care in the last couple of years, so now is a golden opportunity to be a member of their/our team.

* Contact the PAH Patient Panel by emailing paht.patient.panel@nhs.net or calling 01279 815543.



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