Dr Chris Mimnagh: STPs need to involve patients to deliver improved services

'Co-production' is about getting people together to design and create better ways of doing things. Patients and service users must be central to this process, says Dr Chris Mimnagh.

Last time I wrote about federations and the need for a taxonomy to cover the various functions that ubiquitous form can deliver.

Continuing the spirit of ambiguity my eye was caught by a tweet about 'co-production'.

Yet again it's an easy word to twist to your own needs. The Social Care Institute for Excellence says it's slippery to define, but essentially it's people getting in the room to design and create better ways of doing things.

Motherhood and apple pie? Perhaps, but the thorny issue is who are 'people'? Patients? Service users? Clinicians?

The correct answer is yes, all of the above. So here's my suggestion.

If you are federating or trail blazing, pioneering, vanguarding, star trekking, whatever, then stop now. Count up the people you are including. If you can't name as many patients as clinicians then co-production isn't happening.

As pointed out by the RCGP chair writing for GP this week the second great weakness of STPs is the lack of primary care participation, vision and drive, but the first and near unforgivable one is the lack of patient engagement and co-production.

Sadly that is why despite clear national intention, local support and financial imperative, STPs need to prostrate themselves clearly before the court of public opinion.

On a personal level, it offers us a daily challenge as GPs to understand our roles within the community and our need to co-produce the new primary care.

  • Dr Chris Mimnagh is a GP in Liverpool and head of clinical innovation liaison and deployment at The Innovation Agency, the academic health science network for the north-west coast.

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