Involving patients, families and carers in the development of healthcare services helps ensure that we commission the right services to meet the needs of local people. By engaging with the community, we seek to understand the needs, concerns and experiences of residents so we can deliver the best possible health services. We understand that positive health outcomes for the people of Somerset can only be achieved if patients and local people remain at the heart of everything we do.
When changes to health services are proposed, we are careful to arrange appropriate public and patient involvement activities for all sections of the community, including voices from seldom heard groups, and to find ways to reduce health inequalities. Click here to find out more on our Equality and Diversity pages
Support to take part
We work towards our engagement being accessible. We are keen to make sure that people with differing needs can take part in our engagement activities. For example, we always use wheelchair accessible venues, we access language and BSL interpreters and have a portable hearing loop for engagement events and meetings. We also fund travel expenses of lay users invited to be involved in commissioning activities.
Patient and public voice in governance - monitoring local services
Several patient and public representatives take part to enable diverse perspectives. This includes the appointment of lay members to our Governing Body which has three unpaid lay users and two paid statutory lay users. Our Somerset Engagement and Advisory Group provides assurance to the Governing Body on the engagement that we have carried out. Healthwatch Somerset is also a member of our Governing Body and attend other groups and meetings. Our Constitution sets out how we involve the public in governance. Click here to download a copy of our Constitution.
We have established a Somerset Engagement and Advisory Group (SEAG) to provide advice to commissioners and staff on their engagement plans. Membership includes patients and members of the public representing their locality, Healthwatch Somerset, Homegroup, Spark Somerset, Compass Disability, Carer’s Voice, district councils, Headway and many other local groups and charities.
We continually monitor patient experience of local hospitals, through Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALs) feedback, complaints and contract monitoring. We monitor patient experience at local hospitals on a quarterly basis through the Clinical Quality Review Groups which are attended by GPs who sit on our Governing Body and members of the quality team.
Patients with lived experience
It is important that we understand the experience of patients beyond those already represented through our Governing Body and through various committees and patient groups.
On the ‘Your Health Your Story’ section of this site we encourage Somerset patients to share their journey of living with health conditions and their experience of local NHS services. We can then further shape those services according to your feedback. We also provide examples of case studies where direct patient feedback has enabled us to improve services in the past.