Posted by: ayrshirehealth | July 30, 2014

PASS by @patientadvice

Do you use the NHS?

Do you want the best possible NHS in Scotland?

These are more or less stupid questions to start a blog posting in a blog that is based in Scotland and is predominantly about the NHS…..but why would I ask such stupid questions?Listening and Learning

We all use the NHS at some time or other in our lives and it would be hard to imagine all of us not wanting the best possible healthcare system for our country. However, according to the recent Scottish Health Council report, “Listening and Learning”, many members of the public remain unaware of how to give feedback about an NHS experience and how any feedback would then be used to drive improvement across the NHS in Scotland.

The report was commissioned to find out what progress has been made since the introduction of the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011. The report is concerned that “many people don’t know about this right or about the support available to them, for example, through the Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS).”

Patient Advice and Support Service

PASS is independent and provides free, confidential information, advice and support to anyone who uses the NHS in Scotland. It aims to support patients, their carers and families in their dealings with the NHS and in other matters affecting their health. It also advises and supports people who wish to give feedback, make comments, raise concerns or make a complaint about treatment and care provided by the NHS in Scotland.

The service is delivered by the Citizens Advice bureau in Scotland and you can get more information and contact PASS at any bureau or at

PASS“Listening and Learning” recommends that health boards become more proactive in gathering and using feedback to improve health services but also recognises that there is still a “fear factor” around complaining, warning that one of the main barriers highlighted by the public to giving feedback or making a complaint is fear of repercussions for their own or relatives’ treatment.

As PASS is an independent service, it means that patients, relatives and carers can get advice or support about NHS Scotland treatment and care without such a “fear factor”. PASS is fully supported by the Scottish Government and all 14 regional and 7 special Scottish health boards. They all recognise how improvement in our health system is driven by previous patient experience.

Available to every Ayrshire Resident

PASS has specialist Patient Advisers across all of Scotland’s health boards and the service is available to every Ayrshire resident. Clients can also get free, independent, confidential and impartial advice on a number of other issues such as employment, benefits, housing and debt. To access the service, please visit any citizens advice bureau; details of the offices in Ayrshire are in the phone book. PASS has two Patient Advisers in Ayrshire who can be contacted as follows –


Bevan’s founding principles

In a speech to the House of Commons celebrating ten years of the NHS on 30 July 1958, the man credited with the creation of the NHS, Aneurin ‘Nye’ Bevan said, “Many people have died and many have suffered not because the knowledge was not there, but because they did not have access to it.”

Bevan believed that any injustice suffered by an individual should not just not happen to them, it should not happen to anyone so there is little doubt that if Bevan were still alive today, he would rightly be proud of the NHS he created but equally, he would recognise that any such organisation needs transparency; it needs to continue learning lessons from mistakes and it needs continuous improvements in quality.

Whilst doing some research for this blog posting, I came across an organisation called 1000 Lives Plus whose aims are to improve outcomes and drive quality improvement in the NHS in Wales. As part of this process, they produced a report titled, ‘Are Bevan’s principles still applicable in the NHS?’

The report concluded by re-evaluating Bevan’s founding principles for the NHS and stated, “Patients need to be aware of their responsibilities and given the right ‘tools’ to help inform change. Are patients told what they need to do? This area needs to be more fully explored, particularly if genuine partnership (or co-production) is to develop between the NHS and the people it serves.”

The right tools

As you will see from my job title below, I have a vested interest in getting the right ‘tools’ to Scottish NHS patients, carers, relatives and NHS staff and as you would expect, I want to promote and raise awareness of the Patient Advice and Support Service as widely as possible (including to readers of this blog).

The NHS is an outstanding institution and rightly revered across the world and it is vitally important that like our Welsh colleagues, we drive improvement in the NHS in Scotland through learning from previous experiences. I have only been in post for a short period but in that time have marvelled at the magnificent work being done on patient engagement by colleagues in the NHS in Scotland, Scottish Government partners and various other interested parties in the Scottish health environment.

Long may this fantastic work continue and we get to a point where my original question, ‘Do you want the best possible NHS in Scotland’ gets to the point where it is indeed a completely stupid question.

This week’s blog was by @patientadvice (via Dougie Brownlie, PASS Marketing Officer).

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