Intended for healthcare professionals

Education And Debate Modernising the NHS

Patient care (empowerment): the view from a national society

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 17 June 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1660
  1. Mary Baker, chief executive
  1. Parkinson's Disease Society, London SW1V 1EJ

    These two papers form the sixth article in a series of seven

    This week our series on modernising the NHS (in which we are responding to the prime minister's desire to create a national plan for the NHS) covers patient care (empowerment). We asked two people to respond—from different perspectives. In this article Mary Baker writes from her position as chief executive of a prominent national organisation representing people with a specific chronic disease. In the accompanying article on p 1663 Marie Taylor writes as a patient advocate running a local advocacy service.

    These are challenging times. People are living longer, and with old age comes frailty and more long term illnesses. At the same time there is a decrease in the availability of informal carers because of the falling birth rate, changes in family structure, and changes in the role of women in society, with more now taking part in higher education and following a career. An urgent need therefore exists to focus more sharply on families affected by chronic disorders so that their needs can be met appropriately. People want to participate in the management of their illness, and we can no longer afford to waste time, scarce resources, and finance. The challenge is to harness the knowledge of patients—and their desire to manage their own condition—to ensure that resources are used wisely and services provided appropriately.

    Summary points

    The NHS needs to work closely with organisations that represent patients and draw on their knowledge and experience

    Information technologies can help marshall information for patients—and for healthcare professionals

    Commissioning guidance for specific conditions, drawn up with input from patients as well as professionals, can help ensure appropriate services

    Patient groups need to support research of all types, from clinical trials to quality of life surveys

    Making partnerships a reality

    Firstly, we must turn …

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