ATTdigital’s weekly read-round-up #5: GPs are private contractors, a national patient experience challenge for engagement staff, making videos is easy and national service

“I honestly don’t think it matters whether that [NHS care] care is delivered in a state hospital or a privately operated GP surgery.”

This quote came from a Guardian Healthcare Network interview with Stephen Dorrell, chair of the Commons health committee.

I highlight it not because it is a very insightful article but because this is the first time I have seen a GP surgery being classed as private by a politician.

To often for my liking GPs are seen as the guardians of the NHS despite being private contractors. They are not part of the NHS but an extremely key partner, just like the private sector already is through contracts to help the NHS get through its elective waiting lists.

Politicians would do well to help the public understand that GPs don’t necessarily always hold the NHS’ best interests at heart. After all they too are running a business, a business that has to make a profit.

Why we need a national framework for patient experience

Jocelyn Cornwell from The King’s Fund has blogged on the new DH framework for patient experience.

This framework is designed to ‘to apply a single generic framework for patient experience to a wide range of health conditions and settings’. Jocelyn sets out well the challenges that stand in the way of getting the framework adopted across the NHS.

One she doesn’t explore fully is the engagement staff who may well own patient experience questionnaires as part of their work. In my experience NHS engagement professionals are often extremely wary of change preferring to stay within the comfortable boundaries of face-to-face meetings (during work hours) or presentations in town halls to audiences of older people and the usual community champion suspects.

Implementing the framework without a top-down dictat will require a huge amount of engagement work with NHS engagement professionals to teach them that their local population isn’t that different from others and that the same questions across the nation apply to them too. After all a knee op is a knee op in Newcastle or Bristol.

The framework is a great step towards pushing patient experience up the agenda and I hope comms and engagement staff across the NHS embrace it and become experts in it alongside their clinical colleagues.

Ruth Carnall give us her views on Health and Wellbeing Boards in London

This video was taken after Ruth had given a Greater London context at the first of four London health and wellbeing challenge events that bring together the people and organisations that will make up Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs).

While the context may not be of interest to many (even though HWBs offer a lot to think about and act upon, especially integrated care) the point of me showing you this is to break down how easy it is:

  1. Film Ruth answering 3-4 questions with a Flipcam
  2. Download the films to my laptop
  3. Use basic Windows Movie Maker to cut them together
  4. Insert a couple of fade outs and fade ins
  5. Publish (wait a while as your processor works hard)
  6. Upload to YouTube
  7. Promote: Tweet, embed and share with staff and colleagues.

Total time taken to get all this done? About 2 hours. Easy!

Hint: Make sure the interviewer asks the interviewee to repeat the question in their answer and tell the interviewee not to jump straight in after the answer has finished so editing is made easier.

NB: Windows Movie Maker is included on most, if not all, Windows laptop and desktop packages, but is nowehere near as good as Final Cut or Final Cut Pro on a Mac

National Citizen Service (NCS)

This government initiative is an opportunity for 16 year olds to explore their skills, likes and dislikes through outdoor pursuits, helping their communities and creative endeavours such as making short films.

A lot of thinking is currently going into how to make the most of the talent, energy and enthusiasm that British youth have and I like the sound of NCS as part of the answer.

It doesn’t  prescribe a right and wrong Q&A style education like exams, it enables participants to learn through making mistakes (e.g. do taking the right gear when hiking) and gives them the freedom to be creative and explore what makes them tick, something the school system doesn’t do very often. Additionally, as the programme looks to add value to their CV, helping them show the breadth of experience required these days on job and university applications.

If you know any 16 year olds looking to use their long post GCSE summer well this year send them to:


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