An influential pressure group that puts the patient’s voice at the heart of NHS care in the north-east has been launched.
The Patient Action Co-ordination Team (Pact) – whose influential members include hospital consultants, retired GPs and a sheriff – aims to ensure that compassion for patients is a central focus for NHS Grampian.
Margaret Donald, a writer and retired broadcaster, decided to set up Pact almost two years ago after being diagnosed with cancer for a second time.
The 76-year-old, of Aberdeen, said: “I knew if I was going to survive then I was going to work to improve patient care for others.
“Pact’s main drive is a passion for compassion.
“My survival would have been less likely without therapies and compassion at Clan Cancer Support during and after treatment and later at Maggie’s.
“Both organisations work tirelessly to ease the anguish of a cancer journey and a lot can be learned from them by NHS Grampian.
“We want to be there as a voice for the patient. We want to achieve more compassion for patients and make the journey less frightening for them.”
Two years after Mrs Donald was told her cancer may kill her, she is actively building the organisation, first with the help of the group’s inaugural chairman Dr David Galloway and now with current chairman Professor Jamie Weir, who are both retired consultants.
Pact’s first mission is to create a “patient passport” to chronicle who is in charge of an individual’s care from the minute they walk through the hospital door. Students from RGU are helping with the design.
Mrs Donald said: “In a way we have gone back in time and reviving the simple link between the patient and the team who will care for them.”
She said it was now critical to work with the new interim chief executive of NHS Grampian, and that recent damning reports into the culture at NHS Grampian had backed up some of the concerns held by the group.
She said: “The Health Inspectorate Service report verifies everything that Pact has been saying. We very much hope as a team we will be able to work productively with the new management. A seat on the NHS Grampian board for a Pact chairman
would for us be the ultimate acceptance.”
While HIS found that standards of patient treatment at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary was broadly in line with the national picture, the review team also pinpointed weak leadership – particularly that of elderly care – and problem behaviour of some senior clinicians.
Mrs Donald added: “There are of course pockets of excellence at NHS Grampian but also pockets of the absolute opposite.
“We want to make sure that the people faced with an excruciating future following a diagnosis, or those who feel upset following a heartless consultation, are protected.”
The group is not able to represent individual cases, but Mrs Donald said patient experiences can be lodged on their website – due to be up and running soon – in order to influence their work.