Greater Manchester Lancs & South Cumbria Senate

People's Voice member interview

Meet Ben Wills-Eve, parent representative on the People’s Voice

Ben_Wills_Eve.jpgBen Wills-Eve, at 24, is one of the younger members of the People’s Voice. We asked him why he decided to get involved and about his experiences and achievements since he joined a year ago.

Why did you decide to get involved with the People’s Voice?

I’d been campaigning with BLISS, the national charity for the newborn, for two to three years and was initially invited along to a couple of meetings by their North West volunteers co-ordinator.

Which groups are you involved with?

I support two of the Maternity, Children and Young People groups: I’m a parent representative on the pre-term birth group and on one of the North West Neonatal operational delivery network groups.

What do you think is the purpose and value of the People’s Voice?

To get patients and the public better involved in NHS conversations, whether it’s clinical aspects of care or managerial aspects such as how and where things get done and what happens in hospital departments. It’s important to use people’s experiences alongside the knowledge of managers and doctors who have so much to contend with that patients’ views can often get lost in the middle of it. When patients sit down and say, “We have to do this, this and this” – it does change the way issues are thought about.

In what ways do you get involved?

I go along regularly to meetings, but there’s work in between the meetings as well. For example, I sent comments by email as we were developing the ‘Optimising the management of Women at Risk of Pre-term Delivery’ guidelines. I’ve also been asked to assess the feasibility of methods for potentially gathering examples of patient opinion or experience.

What achievements are you proud to have you been a part of?

As a patient representative, a key achievement was having a patient information section included in what are usually very clinical guidelines. It will be great to see in the future the difference the guidelines are making to the care of women at risk of pre-term delivery.

What added-value do you bring to the groups?

As a volunteer for BLISS, I bring along knowledge and experience from that. However, I also think that having someone involved who isn’t a doctor or NHS manager brings a whole different view in itself. Although many of the doctors on the group are parents, they approach it with the mind-set of a doctor, not a parent. I provide a different perspective and remind them of the many other aspects of care which are important to parents. This might be practical things to do with their treatment, or information about the hospital where they’re being treated, such as parking and basic questions like that. These small things matter and can make all the difference.

What advice and encouragement would you give to other patients and members interested in getting involved?

You actually can make something of a difference to the experience that other members of the public and patients are going to have. This is one of the most direct ways you can do it. It’s a great opportunity to sit around the table with clinicians and be listened to.

How have you benefited personally from being involved?

I really do feel I’ve made a difference. I’m so proud to have been a part of the new guidelines that have been produced. These are going to change how people are cared for, for the better, in my local hospital. It is an important thing that you’re doing by getting involved.

What is your biggest motivation of being in the People’ Voice?

I am passionate about getting the public involved in their healthcare. There’s a lot of experience in the public. The wider the variety of perspectives you have, the more likely you are to start benefiting more people. It’s not just about getting public experiences across to professionals, it’s about actively encouraging the public that they can be involved to start with – and they should be involved.