"DOZENS of members of the public are being sought to take on key voluntary roles to help improve Scotland’s health service by standing up for patients.
Healthcare Improvement Scotland, the agency charged with raising standards in the NHS, is seeking applicants to become public partners, helping contribute to crucial issues such as the management of patient safety, hospital inspections and decisions on the approval of new medicines.
The voluntary positions are often demanding, but public partners serve an important role representing the views of patients and carers and ensuring their voices are not lost when managers and clinicians are making decisions.
Angiolina Foster, chief executive of Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said the 15-20 volunteers to be appointed would be crucial in making sure the NHS hears about the experiences of its clients, directly or indirectly:
“Public partners play a vital role in the work of Healthcare Improvement Scotland. Our aim is to improve care for the people of Scotland,” she said.
“It’s imperative that we involve people who have experience of using these services. Public partners not only help give us that perspective, they help support others to give their views as well. Involving the public in our work is an integral part of everything we do.”
Depending on the role, those selected may need to travel around the country, sometimes staying overnight. They will be expected to read documents and report on them, take part in high level meetings and talk to patients in healthcare settings about their experiences of the NHS. They could also have to take part in harrowing meetings with patients nearing the end of life, or others who could be helped by the approval of new drugs.
Other roles include involvement in focus groups and sometimes consultations are carried out purely online.
Training is given and successful applicants will be able to choose the area of work which suits them best. Appointments are for four years and applicants need to be able to access the internet and have some spare time during the working week.
Roles are to be advertised on Friday and will stress that people are sought from all backgrounds and experiences, not just those with chronic health conditions of their own or experience of the way care is delivered.
Jennifer Dickson, who leads the Scottish Medicines Consortium’s public involvement team, said: “Understanding the experiences of patients, their families and carers is a key element in the Scottish Medicines Consortium decision making process.
“Our public partners perform a very valuable role in ensuring that the views of patients and the public are taken into account. They give up their own time to take part in our meetings, dealing with issues about new medicines that can be very complex and challenging. Their commitment to our work is commendable and greatly valued.”
Anyone who wishes to register an interest, and receive an application pack when public partner recruitment is launched on Jan 8th can email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact HIS by phone at: 0141 225 6887."