Patients as partners

Building collaborative relationships among professionals, patients, carers and communities
Comments: 8
More collaborative relationships among health and care professionals, patients, service users, carers and communities are essential for the future of the NHS, but what helps to build effective relationships? This guide stems from an evolving body of the Fund's work focused on exploring and supporting shared leadership. This work is reinforced by a growing consensus that health services, agencies, patients and communities need to work together more – and differently.
Patients as partners - Building collaborative relationships among professionals, patients, carers and communities | by Becky Seale

No. of pages: 36

Key messages

The guide suggests five approaches to developing an effective relationship:

  • find your collaborative partner: this, together with identifying funding and a real task to work on, marks the first important stage of beginning a collaborative relationship
  • invest in developing leadership and collaborative relationships
  • make time for learning: set aside time for reflection, record learning and share that learning with peers and those you hope to influence
  • go where the energy is: sometimes this means working under the radar for a while until you are ready to share your results, your approach and your learning
  • embed collaborative activity at all levels in your system or organisation.

How can we help?

The national Leading collaboratively with patients and communities programme continues in September. Being part of the programme helped the pairs in our 2015/16 cohort gain a legitimacy that made them feel more credible and lent weight to their initiatives.

Bespoke learning and development programmes can help your local system or organisation to develop collaborative capabilities and/ or scope where collaborative relationships could occur.

Contact us to find out more on 020 7307 2650 or email

We want to hear from you

We want to hear your stories of collaboration, reflections on the guide and what you would find useful to help your collaborative relationships to grow. Post your comments under this guide or contact us directly.

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#547800 Claire Dearden
Quality and Governance lead
East Staffs CCG

East Staffs CCG have recently currently recruited three patient volunteers to the Medicines Optimisation Team.
We are at the starting process of growing this relationship and looking at ways of collaboration.
I would welcome any help from the The Kings Fund to help with this journey.

#547811 John Grumitt
Vice President
Diabetes UK

The 4 CCGs of Berkshire West formed a stakeholder group, including 2 patient representatives that redesigned and implemented a new diabetes service. By focusing wholly on meeting the needs of patients as effectively as possible and involving them every step of the way, they reduced prescribing by over £800k and dramatically improved all key measures of health outcomes at the same time. Better care can cost less. Better care comes from commitment to the patients we serve, above institutions. See

#547814 Derek land
Vice president/ founder Chair
Norfolk Carers Support

It would be useful to refer to" Patients and their Carers" at key points instead of mainly just "patients"X3TZR. They form the first level, home-based, 24/7 Primary Care Team upon which all "higher-level" care and collaboration needs to be built from initial contact to eventual discharge. They also form the foundation of prevention measures.

#547827 Sara Turle
Patient Partner
Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Trust

I am a Patient Partner at BHRUT. The Trust are highly proactive in their approach to partnership working believing that as I do, that best practice comes when we work together. Partners are actively involved in committees, working parties, reviews etc +getting involved in co-design of care. I am a vocal participant in weekly Patient Safety Summits where SI's are discussed+key learning happens plus I am actively involved in the Virginia Mason Institute collaboration with the Trust. I still see us as at the start of a journey with patient partnership but wow, when I stop and reflect; what a way we have come. There is an understandable fear of taking this step from "you and us" to "we" but do it. I believe it benefits all and surely that is what we all want to see.

#547828 Allison Trimble
senior leadership consultant
The King's Fund

Hi Claire
Many thanks for your comment and it would be good to hear more about your work. We would be happy to have a chat about your journey and how we could help. I will email you directly about this. Also, we still have some spaces on the next cohort of the Collaborative Pairs programme if this was of interest as a way to help develop the relationships? Best wishes for your ongoing work in this area, what you are doing sounds great! Allison

#547829 allison trimble
senior leadership consultant
The King's Fund

Dear John
Many thanks for your comment and the link to your work which sounds fantastic. We are keen to promote examples of good practice in collaborative work and I will keep you in mind as a good example as we continue to develop and promote this work. Best wishes for your ongoing work in this area. Allison

#547830 allison trimble
senior leadership consultant
The King's Fund

Dear Derek
Many thanks for your comment and yes I completely agree about the importance of carers. we tried to set out at the beginning of the document that we were using the term “patients” as a short hand for “patients, citizens, carers and communities” but agree it could be strengthened by being specific at key points and we will bear that in mind for future publications. Thanks again for taking the time to reply. Allison

#547831 allison trimble
senior leadership consultant
The King's Fund

Hi Sara
Many thanks for your comment and letting us know about your work as a patient partner. It sounds amazing and I agree that fear and anxiety play a big part in what’s possible (or not!) for a more collaborative relationship. We still have some spaces (including a bursary for the patient partner) in our next collaborative pairs programme starting in September if you or any of your colleagues at BHRUT were interested? We would be delighted to have you join us.  all good wishes for your work, it sounds brilliant! Allison

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