Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s National Director for Patients and Information, explains the next step towards empowering people

Since being established NHS England has been seeking and developing ways to put patient participation at the heart of its decision-making.

Over the last few months we have been working with colleagues throughout the health and care sectors, and beyond, to try to describe what that really means in the context of a 21st Century NHS. We heard and learnt a lot from a day we spent with colleagues in June to test out our early ideas about a national assembly to really put peoples voice at our core.

On October 22 and 23 we are hosting two further development days to towards this concept of establishing a Citizens’ Assembly.

We have a real and genuine commitment to building this new approach to participation with our communities – which means that we have to be open to change and amend our ideas as we listen to, hear and respond to feedback.

This will need a transparent and open process which is one of the reasons why the event is going to be live streamed and why we will be including comments and ideas from our digital participants as well as the people in the room – in the 21st Century we are going to need to be ‘digital by default’ at the same time as making sure everyone has the chance to participate and contribute.

At present we see the Citizens’ Assembly as having three main purposes:

  • To give citizens and organisations a direct transparent route for their voices to reach the heart of the NHS England decision making process, in a way that cannot be ignored.
  • To give the NHS England board and others a new source of evidence and opinion on the NHS now and future.
  •  To give the public an open and robust accountability mechanism for the work of NHS England, and opportunities to participate in every aspect of the organisation’s work.

We intend it to be much more than simply a consultation or reporting mechanism and it will play a central role in the way in which NHS England operates.

It is intended to describe the new kind of relationship between stakeholders and NHS England that was discussed in the July workshop that was attended by a wide audience.

This purpose and the design behind it will undoubtedly be refined following our design event and we hope it will be stronger for it – if we are committed to doing things differently then we have to open to change.

I look forward to seeing the next stages of this work and even more to seeing it develop into a living system that brings the voice of the citizen into the heart of what we do at NHS England.


Published by Anthony Zacharzewski

Anthony Zacharzewski was one of the founders of Demsoc in 2006. Before starting work for Demsoc in 2010, he was a Whitehall civil servant and a local government officer.

3 replies on “A citizens’ assembly will put people at the heart of everything the NHS does”

  1. Whilst we need to maintain a careful and watchful eye on the NHS care that is delivered to patients.
    We also need to be aware of the stresses and strains the NHS workers endure to provide 1st class care.
    We need to examine the policies that govern day to day procedures, and in particular the rather Draconian Sickness Policy that York hospital enforces.

    1. It’s the Trust’s Council of Governors that should be examining the policies that govern day-to-day procedures at York Hospital. You can e-mail the Lead Governor or the Trust Secretary to ask whether the effects of these policies are being looked into. You can also attend any Council meeting in person.

      York Hospital’s staff sickness absence rates have been a little better than other hospital trusts’ in the region, according to the most recent figures available to the public (which are not very recent 🙁 ). But whether this is being achieved at the expense of morale and quality is another matter. If the Trust’s Board seems to be getting this wrong, the Council can hold non-executive directors to account for it.

  2. The only “Citizen’s democracy” the NHS needs is a functioning market. Privatise everything than can be privatised, Give patients choices, and let the (state) funds follow them. You still have tax-payer funded healthcare, free at the point of delivery, but it doesn’t kill your gran by neglect.

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