This important theme recognises that patients are crucial partners in the quality and safety of care. Patient engagement and patient-centred care are now cornerstones of care delivery within UK healthcare. Our team is at the forefront of research considering how best to engage with patients, service users, families and carers in a range of safety initiatives, across acute care, primary care and mental health care. We recognise that patients are uniquely positioned to help health services monitor, manage and improve safety, as they represent the one common presence across all healthcare encounters. We therefore prioritise research to understand how to successfully partner with patients, service users, families and carers in supporting safety, and how to support healthcare staff to use this information effectively.

We will create and test tools that support patient, service user, family and carer involvement across the pathway of care.

One of the key research projects in our theme is the development and testing of a tool to support patients and primary care healthcare professionals in achieving a faster cancer diagnosis in primary care. Our tool may help to support safety netting within a primary care consultation, particularly for vague symptoms that may be related to cancer, and guide patients in making decisions about when to come back if symptoms persist, become more severe or change.

We recognise that patient engagement can take many forms, and one of our other key research projects is exploring how patients provide feedback about the quality and safety of their care online. Online feedback is becoming ever more present in all parts of our lives, and healthcare is no exception to this. Our research aims to understand how organisations respond to patient feedback delivered online, and to do this, we are partnering with Care Opinion – the UK’s largest independent, not-for-profit repository for online patient feedback. We are hoping to understand how organisations use this feedback, what the opportunities and challenges are, and how to really capitalise on this unique perspective on care.

Theme lead:
Dr Jane O’Hara

Deputy theme lead:
Professor Ian Watt

Key people:
Kate Smyth (Lay Leader), Dr Gemma Louch, Dr Abigail Albutt, Dr Laura Sheard, Dr James Munro, Dr Claire Marsh, Dr Jane Heyhoe