Chris Thompson: has lived experience of being a mental health service user and is a member of the Public Partnership group in the School of Human and Health Sciences at the University of Huddersfield and is a member of Recovery College. He is passionate about talking openly of his experiences to combat stigma and improve understanding of mental illness. He has also started a self-help group called RECONNECT, for people who have suffered from Stress Anxiety and Depression at work. As a retired marketing director of an international company, he has professional experience of working in an environment where power and coercion are everyday occurrences. Despite being unable to attend the seminar Chris has made this contribution through a pre-recorded video.
What is a Patient Champion?
A conversation between Leanne Winfield, Patient Champion and Pamela Fisher, Principal Lecturer, Health Promotion & Public Health, Leeds Beckett University.
Pamela: Tell me about being a Patient Champion.
Leanne: I am a ‘Patient Champion’ with my local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in Leeds West. A Patient Champion is a member of the public who works with the NHS to ensure that the needs of patients, and the wider public, are considered by staff throughout the commissioning cycle. My particular roles are as a member the Patient Participation Group at my GP surgery, and as a member of the Equality and Inclusion Group at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. In these roles I aim to promote the needs of all patients, not just my personal viewpoint.
Pamela: Pamela: We are holding seven one-day seminars are being held over two years in collaboration with the Universities of Huddersfield, Oxford (St. Catherine’s College) and York. The seminars are helping to develop new ways of working and researching within mental health. The starting point is that co-production should involve authentic power-sharing, and that this requires a fundamental re-imagining of the relationships between service users, carers and professionals. They are run with the Economic and Social Research Council. Is your work in a Leeds also a good example of co-production?
Leanne: The purpose of a Patient Champion is to bring another perspective to discussions, and ensure that relevant engagement work has taken place. With the CCG I have also been involved in producing and delivering some training for other Patient Champions and staff members on the topic of co-production. This was developed with the ethos of co-production, working with staff members on an equal basis, and the process demonstrated a really good example of co-production. People were valued regardless of whether they were experts-by-learning or experts-by-experience. The training was well received, and we will be running it again later in the year.
Pamela: Our seminars have seen a group of diverse stakeholders, who have contributed different forms of expertise, taking part. The starting point for the seminar series has been that all forms of expertise – service user/survivor, professional and academic – should be viewed as equally valuable. I’d imagine it’s unlikely that you would be able to be so effective as a Patient Champion if you were unable to draw on her own experiences as a ‘user’ of mental health services.