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Meet the people of People's Voice

Meet the people who are involved in the People's Voice, and find out their thoughts and opinions on the work we do together.

Cliff Cotsworth

Cliff_Cotsworth_cropped.jpgCliff is a patient and People's Voice member who is currently undergoing treatment for diabetes. He is a member of the Diabetes Action Group and the Merseyside Diabetic Action Board. Previously, Cliff was a personnel manager with Barclays Bank and is currently a member of the Samaritans. Through his own experiences and those of his parents, who were also diabetic, Cliff knows only too well how much distress a diagnosis in diabetes and its related diseases can cause, which puts him in a strong position to help others.

Initially, Cliff was on the Local Action Group for Diabetes in his local area, before joining one in Liverpool, where his involvement with Cheshire and Merseyside SCN grew. “The People’s Voice invited me to go along to the Oversight Committee and my involvement has continued to grow since then. It’s good to see how diverse the involvement of different people is within the networks. This really inspires me and I learn so much through being involved.

“I am very impressed with how committed the people who work with and for the CMSCN are. The drive of medics and non-medics alike is remarkable, and I am very optimistic about what they can achieve together to improve health and care outcomes in the future.”

Cliff is passionate about the education of patients and wants to ensure that they are equipped with all the knowledge they need once they are diagnosed.

“The CVD network has invested a good deal of time introducing foot care across the region. Now we are really focusing on educating people – after a diagnosis it’s so important to provide people with basic information to help them adapt to the new lifestyle they need to take on.”

Cliff has many ambitions for the People’s Voice and the CVD network going forward. “I want to improve people’s understanding and empower them to make a valuable contribution to the network, always with the wellbeing of patients in mind. I myself have been given lots of encouragement to get involved and am always made to feel that my contribution is valued.”

Sharon Bird

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Sharon is a retired senior nurse who has been working in the NHS for over 40 years. She was a carer for her late husband and this fueled her desire to become a patient representative for the Palliative and End of Life Care Network.

Sharon’s experiences living through the challenges of nursing a loved one mean that she is able to directly relate to the issues that people face when going through such a difficult time. Her nursing background gives her a realistic view of the various health care challenges, meaning that the network gets the benefit of views from both sides of the coin.

“At network meetings so far we have been keeping people educated about the work that we do. We continually work hard to support carers and ensure they are able to carry on with the very valuable work that they do.”

Sharon is passionate about being part of the network:

“The network can make such a difference. It gives patients a voice and the chance to influence the decisions that are taken to improve patient care. It encourages productive communication, collaborative thinking and the sharing of innovative practice across all of the clinical networks, and provides essential support and guidance for members.

“The patients themselves are vital to ensuring the provision of patient-centred care, which is research based, audited and fit for purpose, across Cheshire and Merseyside. They are encouraged to join all clinical networks, their views are heard and they are actively involved in the decision making to improve services.

“Through my own involvement with the SCN and since attending the OPCARE 9 conference in May 2011, I have been able to introduce a Volunteer Companionship Service in a Liverpool hospital. This trains volunteers to give comfort and support to dying patients who have few or no relatives or friends to sit with them in their final hours.”

Ray Murphy 

Ray_Murphy_cropped.jpgRay, 78, a former banker who is now retired, has been involved with our networks for 14 years. He is currently a member of our Oversight Group and our Cancer Steering Group, which work to improve services and ensure that everyone works together to deliver the right and highest quality services. The Oversight groups oversee and ensure that each of the five networks’ work plans is working well and thoroughly. 

“I am really passionate about supporting the SCN and their work. Having had personal experience of poor treatment, I find being able to influence and improve outcomes for people with cancer or other illnesses very satisfying.”

Ray is proud of what has been achieved so far and ambitious about the difference the networks can make in the future to improve services. “The provision of cancer services has been at its highest peak compared to how it was years ago, and the steering groups and People’s Voice have played a major role in achieving this.

“I am also very optimistic about the future. The importance of the People’s Voice cannot be underestimated. To be able to change services for the better and for the long term future, we need to involve as many people as possible in influencing the decisions being made to improve health and care services. Through the People’s Voice we can obtain the opinions and views of everyone in every health service area to ensure that services work well for those who use them. 

“The People’s Voice database is invaluable as a means of bringing together the widest range of people possible into the same room. By asking them the right questions we can gain their honest opinions on particular services or issues and make improvements for the future.

“So far some of the key issues we have discussed at steering group meetings include waiting times for those diagnosed with cancer, cancer screening uptakes, national cancer survivorship initiatives and findings from the 2013 National cancer patient experience survey. We are also considering how we can update out video conferencing facilities to ensure that the right consultants and clinicians can be involved at multi disciplinary team meetings, even if they can’t attend personally.”

John Roberts 

Untitled.jpgJohn, who is in his 60’s, joined the People’s Voice after being a member of multiple groups in the community, including the community health council. He is actively involved with the Mental Health Network, as well as the Diabetes Action Group and more recently has joined the Oversight Group. Previously he had always felt that the projects he was involved with weren’t reaching the right people, which is why he’s so passionate about the work of the People’s Voice.

“The People’s Voice does what it says. It gives everyone the chance to participate, you can dive in and out and do as much or as little as you want, but it gives you the chance to have your voice heard.”  

Through his work with the Mental Health Network, John can see the scope for increasing the reach of the People’s Voice for people struggling with their mental health, by providing a place where people can connect with others who are dealing with the same, or similar, issues: “More people need to understand what mental health is, and a lot of people struggling would benefit from having someone that they can talk to who has been through a similar experience. This is something the network is able to provide them with. Community outreach can really improve the lives of people with mental health issues.” 

“I’d love to see the People’s Voice grow, and involve more people and communities in all aspects. People listen to us, and we are doing so much more than just ticking boxes. We, as patients, can be an asset to the health care professionals. The People’s Voice provides a chance to people to start tailoring services to their needs, by influencing the decisions that are made.”

Having recently become involved with the Oversight Group, John is really positive about the direction that it is heading in: “The support we receive is great. I go to the meetings and feel like I am involved and making a useful contribution. I feel that they are listening to what we have to say and that they truly take it on board.”

More and more patients are getting involved with the People’s Voice and their voices are being heard. “Now, there are more opportunities for patients to speak out, which has never been the case before. I’ve greatly enjoyed the work that I’ve been involved with so far and am really looking forward to the future. I would strongly encourage anyone to become involved.”