Key points

  • Patients and the public should be seen as citizens and not simply as recipients of care, with a role in deciding what the fundamental standards of care should be and a right to raise concerns when these are not met.
  • The patient is the single most important safety barometer and the issues they raise can be an early warning to a later risk.
  • Recent changes to the infrastructure of patient and public involvement in England are hindering local efforts to give people a strong voice. Identifying and developing local responses to these problems must be a priority for commissioners and providers.
  • Patient representatives should be aware of and take steps to avoid ‘going native’, losing the fresh perspective they offer and becoming professionalised parts of the service.
  • We must stop using the excuse that people might not understand performance information about healthcare providers as a reason for not publishing information.

On 1 May 2013, the Health Foundation hosted a roundtable event to explore how the public, patients, their families and carers can be involved in improving patient safety.

People with expertise and personal experience of involvement in patient safety came together to share their knowledge and learning in order to build understanding in this area.

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