So here’s the thing.
NHS Citizen is an empty tin can being kicked along a dusty road to nowhere
Without anyone watching or listening.
It has no visible effect on NHS England.
It has no visible effect on our CCGs who organise health services locally.
It’s an eruption of field voles. Holes everywhere and going round in circles.
I had my doubts about it at meetings in 2014 and 2015.
Now I am certain.
It’s going nowhere.
It’s a waste of money.
I’ve been to a workshop meeting in London to talk about what is good and what is bad an NHS Citizen. What is worth keeping and what should be ditched.
How it should be improved.
Trouble is, at every citizen event or meeting I’ve been to people just spout randomly about whatever they feel angry about that day.
They don’t listen to the facilitator or to what others say. They don’t give others the courtesy of opportunities to speak until forced. They interrupt, speak across. Have meetings within meetings, arguments with arguments…
And the masters who fund this grand project don’t do anything to address what we say.
I went through a citizens jury and then the full assembly last year. I spent several days on presentations, research, tweaking, delivering, arguing…
“There is little support for people with dementia between diagnosis and crisis”
And what happened to the cause with arguably the highest popularity during the jury stage?
Simon Stevens et al said NHS England can’t tell CCGs what they should do.
(Ahem. I think they can, and do. Cancer and access targets. Dementia diagnosis rates and payments. Reconfiguration and sustainability plans. National CQUINs.)
He said it was up to us on the ground to influence and persuade our CCGs to change what they do.
And today I’ve been told that NHS citizen gather website is not looked at or used by the Board.
So my time and effort, and others’ too, have been wasted.
No one knows about NHS Citizen. No one cares about it.
So what next?
I suggest two useful options.
First, use the Citizen Gather website for people around the country to post discussions of best practice in their areas so we can share them around the country.
CCGs could use this to find great ideas that have been tried and tested elsewhere, to look for evidence, to exchange solutions.
Citizens could similarly post about their concerns (like dementia support) and get others around the country to help them.
Of course, there are existing social media type sites that are used for this, but it could work if sufficiently publicised.
It could also be used for local online consultations and networking in CCG areas, for commissioners to see what people are thinking and saying about healthcare.
Second option…and I will not be popular…
Recruit carefully a group of people (citizens) who are statistically representative of the population (like the citizen jury in Stoke) and who have the influencing skills, behaviours and aptitude to be a scrutiny panel just below the Board of NHS England. Hold them to account. Bring things that are on the Citizen Gather website to the Board and challenge them to take action.
Those are my vision for how NHS Citizen can be turned into something positive and valuable.