The ‘Pop Up University Session’ at NHS Expo gives an overview of NHS Citizen: where we are and how we got here. You can see the slides in the blog post below.
NHS Citizen is about getting people to have a voice and getting the NHS England Board to listen. The work started with a discussion at the Expo in 2013 about an Assembly. We have been working on creating this for the past year and the project has become ’NHS Citizen’. We are designing it with people and it is a work in progress. The Board is not in control of it but they are accountable for it. Which is an interesting balance: to facilitate and listen to the discussion.
We need NHS Citizen because people want a different relationship with the NHS. We have more information and we don’t trust others to make decisions behind closed doors anymore. People want to be involved in decision-making. We are working in this new world with NHS Citizen. It will be open: showing our working as we go. Networked: as networks help link people together. Digital: not purely but recognising the advantages and benefits digital brings while finding ways of including those who are not digital. And agile; which is being flexible and adapting as we go. And we want to see these principles as cornerstones of the NHS as well as NHS Citizen.
The question we are looking for the answer to is: ‘How do you hold people with power to account in NHS England?’ We need Boards, MPs and Cllrs as we need to know who is taking decisions and who is accountable, but NHS England wants to give citizens a direct route into their decision-making process. We are proposing a twice a year Assembly which will sit down and engage the Board on things that have come from people. We are looking at various ways of selecting this Assembly such as a lottery, jury or voting system. We need to make sure any system is not hijacked by special interests. And we need to balance the urgent issue that is high profile today against the important long-term issue. We also need to work out what support is needed for everyone to take part.
An important part of NHS Citizen is the way that it brings together different parts of the conversations. Discover is designed to find, connect and show where conversations are happening. We want to hear about people’s existing networks, but it is not about surveillance. We want people to want to join in and create the NHS Citizen system. We also need a big inclusion project for marginalised groups. We need to include them in the design process so what we design is inclusive.
But it hard to listen to a conversation between 50 million people so we have the Gather space, which is the place where you can talk about an issue in depth. This is about how we change complex, human issues into something that the NHS can act on. We hope we will be able to start conversations early with people about how to get the best possible health for their community not start the discussions when communities are fighting a hospital closures.
NHS England is not a competition where if your idea is good enough it gets to the Assembly and wins. it is a problem-solving tool to find the best place to solve a problem and then lets you know what has happened about it. It is not about competition with what already exists; it is about finding out what is already going on, and connecting everything up for the benefit of people.
We are also working with NHS England and the NHS locally to become an organisation that can engage people. At the moment people’s opinions meet the system and the system is not listening. In some parts of the NHS there is a real appetite for change. And we are working to support this change.
NHS Citizen is different; it is not just a democracy wash on the same old processes: it is for everyone, the converts and the skeptics. It is still a work in progress and challenge is good. Please come and join us. If you sign up to our mailing list we will keep you updated on what we are doing, including regional events where you can come and help with the design. We are also continuing the discussion online (@NHSCitizen and our NHS Citizen page on Facebook.)