Patients need to be involved with the development of their doctors’ careers

At the end of last week Sir Keith Pearson released his review of medical revalidation, and one of the first and key recommendations was that health services and the profession need to promote revalidation to patients and explain why their feedback is so important to the process.

This is an extremely positive recommendation, but it begs the question – did you know that you could get involved with developing your doctor’s career?

Revalidation for doctors was introduced in the UK in December 2012 and requires all doctors to demonstrate that they are ‘up to date and fit to practise’. The process includes feedback from colleagues and from patients.

Sir Keith was asked by the General Medical Council to provide a review of how the process had embedded in the profession and across health services. 

Healthcare professionals increasingly need effective patient input if they are to provide a relevant, sustainable and effective service.

Conversely, patients and the public have the right to contribute to, advise and inform not just the professionals who care for them, but also the service structure within which they are treated.

When this double dynamic works well, it results in a responsive NHS service that has the confidence of all concerned. It also provides both healthcare professionals and patients the knowledge and voice to defend NHS services that are placed at risk.

We were delighted to see patients feature so prominently in Sir Keith’s review. The role of us all in the development of doctors and our health services is important to ensuring that the profession and the delivery of health progress in line with the needs of patients.

However, until now there has been little, if any, definitive support for healthcare professionals about how best to engage patients and the public across all aspects of healthcare. If there was to be a random poll on any High Street asking ordinary people if they know how they can get involved, most would not know that any opportunities exist at all.

At the end of last year, colleagues and I worked in partnership with the Patients Association, with support from the Health Foundation, on research that will help to bridge these knowledge gaps and close the disconnect.

We have now published the first definitive guide book, based on an extensive review of evidence, for all health professionals about how to engage and work with patients and the public. Running parallel to the guide book is an animation which explains to patients, carers and the public the many ways in which they can have a say in and influence the care they receive.

I spoke personally with Sir Keith as part of his consultation, and he was keen that more information about revalidation is made readily available to all patients. This is now one of the key recommendations of his review. We have therefore developed a handy flyer for patients, from our research with both doctors and patients, containing important information about how and why patients can feed back on their doctors and what doctors can gain from this partnership.

The work is based on the evidence of PPI (patient and public involvement) research carried out by CAMERA on behalf of the Health Foundation, as well as an extensive review of academic studies and information provided by patient groups in collaboration with the Patients Association. The research has included round table discussions and interviews with people from all walks of society - from upmarket postcodes to homeless centres, city centre cafes to church halls, and country pubs to international student clubs.

The overwhelming finding we came away with was that, regardless of background, age, gender, and other parameters, people really want to know more about how they can interact with the NHS in a positive way – whether to give feedback to help their doctor with their professional development, have input into how services are run, get involved with defending services in an appropriate manner or contribute to research.

On the one side we saw eager patients and members of the public who wanted to get involved but didn’t know how: on the other we have seen health professionals who don’t know how to start to get people involved – let alone how to keep them engaged and benefit from mutual working.

We believe that the guide, flyer and animation combined will increase meaningful interaction between health professionals and patients and public – in line with the recommendations from Sir Keith’s report and to the benefit of the future of the NHS. Already we are starting to receive feedback from all manner of parties saying how this has helped them.

So much of what is perceived to be ‘wrong’ about the NHS can be attributed to a disconnect between the NHS, those who provide the care, and those who receive it. We want patient and public participation to move beyond making complaints to a culture in which we all work together to develop an NHS which is beneficial for everyone – and facilitating a healthy dialogue where everyone understands their roles is a great start. The opportunities for collaboration are out there and getting involved with your doctor’s medical revalidation is just one example; people just need to know exactly what they are and what they can do to get involved.


Dr Sam Regan de Bere - Deputy Director of CAMERA

Sam is PUPSMD academic lead for Medical Humanities and Vice President of the UK Association for Medical Humanities. She has conducted professions related research for over twenty years.

Learn more about Dr Sam Regan de Bere

About us

The Collaboration for the Advancement of Medical Education Research and Assessment (CAMERA) exists to improve healthcare through evidence-based education and to inform assessment in medical curricula across medical education. 

Funded, collaborative research by a multi-professional group impacts directly on the international literature, educational theory, practice and policy at Plymouth Peninsula, as well as nationally and internationally.

The CAMERA research team are all located within the Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry. The team come from a range of disciplinary backgrounds and use a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods.

 

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