I had a wonderful day in London in 2014 with my colleagues from the Patient Carer Community (PCC), Leeds Institute of Medical Education. We engaged with clinicians on their PG Cert in Clinical Leadership, the Darzi Fellows, facilitated by Becky Malby and Duncan Ross of the Centre of Innovation in Health Management (CIHM), Leeds Business School.
We worked in small groups talking about coproduction and offered our unique experience as patient experts and leaders. Over the course of three half hour round table sessions the groups explored the benefits and barriers of coproduction with patients.
Each one of my conversations revealed the hopes, fears and potentials of coproduction felt by the clinicians. All recognised the desire for engagement and the agenda for change that drives it. Perceptions and expectations of what patients can offer ranged from enthusiastic to pragmatic to critical. All showed a desire to explore what patients could offer their particular service area.
At the end of the round table sessions each of us from the PCC had the opportunity to speak to the whole cohort to give our feedback and reflect on the impression left by our involvement. I recognised that clinicians, clinical leads and their teams often face complex and conflicting demands that challenge the implementation of meaningful patient coproduction initiatives.
In the same way that the clinicians I spoke to empathised with patients who feel overwhelmed when faced with the life changing impact that ill health brings; the physical and emotional challenge to their way of life and personal values; the disruption to established routines and relationships. I could empathise with these clinical leaders of the future and the often overwhelming demands they will face in their endeavours to establish and sustain new ways of working.
I left the event buoyed by the passion and energy I witnessed. I feel hopeful that these health leaders of tomorrow will continue to work, advocate and come to value the considerable input patients can bring to determining the future of our health services.
As a final take away I would ask that clinicians and health leaders see beyond the label of patient and instead meet the human being. To recognise the knowledge, skills and life experience that people as patients bring. Not just to manage their own health needs, but the potential for the co-design and development of our future health services.