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Tuesday 23 July 2019
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Use the celebrations to engage with your patients

Steve Williams, co-chair of the Practice Management Network, on what practices can do to mark the NHS's milestone birthday

The NHS will be turning 70 on 5 July. Have you thought about how your practice wants to mark the anniversary? The health service would like to see the celebrations as a thank you to NHS staff for their hard work and commitment and, as practice managers, we are key to ensuring that all those involved are recognised for their contribution.

This landmark birthday is an opportunity to look back at the history of the NHS. You can do this by creating an archive of local knowledge that draws on information derived from speaking to staff and patients. Identify key NHS milestones that have occurred in your area and find out how they have had an impact on your service delivery.

This anniversary is also a great time to focus on the achievements we anticipate will take place and the expectations that will hopefully be fulfilled in the next 70 years. The birthday celebrations offer an opportunity for greater collaboration with patients, which in turn creates the ability to educate and inform them about how your services can best be utilised, and to consider what features you want to promote to get your patients more engaged with your practice.

These could include prompting patients to:

  • Join their patient participation group
  • Volunteer to help support vulnerable patients
  • Become an organ or blood donor
  • Support a pledge to use primary care services responsibly. To, for example, not book an appointment they know they might have to cancel at a later date. NHS resources are finite and we have to use what we have with consideration for everyone.
  • Consider assisting in NHS research programmes Become health champions for long-term physical conditions or mental health
  • Consider the effects of self-care. For example, if patients know they’re about to go on holiday and they need a repeat prescription, they should plan ahead and put in their repeat prescription request in time.

The list above is, of course, only an example and is not exhaustive.

The NHS has already produced a number of resources (at www.england.nhs.uk/nhs70/resources) that can help you decide how to celebrate. You may want to join the anniversary conversation – which you can do using the #NHS70 hashtag – or look at examples on www.nhs70.nhs.uk of what others are already doing or planning to do. The information in the link above and on the NHS70 website is free and a good way to start the celebration process. Joining in the anniversary festivities is, of course, not mandatory, but it is a good opportunity to get your message across in a positive way.
There is a variety of approved NHS70 branding available, including a logo that your practice can customise for any local events you organise. This can also be used in any publications you issue and on your social media. You might want to consider producing your own archive of material that links to the 70th birthday but directly relates to your practice. Alternatively, you can add your own local stories to the range of material that has already been created by the NHS. There is a wealth of material available, including images, film and digital assets, as well as ‘how to’ guides on a range of topics related to the anniversary and how to get involved with it; from social media guidelines and information on organising NHS70 open days to an NHS Big 7Tea party pack.

Hosting your own event on the day is a great idea, and one of the easiest (and least stressful) you could organise is a Big 7Tea party. The idea behind this is to have numerous events based around the simple cup of tea, while raising funds for NHS charities. These tea parties will be held all over the country and are an excellent way to create inclusion for staff and patients. Naturally, work must also carry on, despite the 70th anniversary, but it’s the perfect time to do something a little bit different. If done well, it will be beneficial for everyone involved. If you do decide to organise an event, let people know about it and put it on the NHS70 website.

We should celebrate the unique relationship between us, the professionals and our patients. They are our service-user. They are the NHS.

How are you celebrating the NHS’s 70th birthday in your practice? Let us know by tweeting @GPpracticeMGMT