David Kelsall was one of five Heart Voices members who attended the CCPUK conference in June and he tells us his thoughts on the conference.
“I was very grateful to be invited to attend and I hoped it would give me a much better appreciation of patient engagement processes and issues – and help suggest ways that I might volunteer my skills in the future.
The stories recounted by patients were remarkable survival stories, which demonstrated the patients’ strength of character in coping with the challenges of having a transplant and also cardiomyopathy. Such stories usefully remind us what patients often have to face and overcome.
There were three sessions in particular which stood out for me – that of Emma Easton, Professor Sir Nilesh Samani and Dr Amie King.
Emma Easton discussed the challenges for public participation and showed us what a tremendously complicated organisation the NHS is. In particular, the session showed me that there are opportunities that already exist for participation ranging from local surgeries and hospitals to regional and national bodies. The importance of the NHS constitution was a real eye-opener where its first sentence is “The NHS belongs to the people”.
It was exciting to hear from Professor Sir Nilesh Samani who will be taking over as the new BHF Medical Director later this year. He told us about some of the most recent developments in understanding heart disease which led me to think about my own condition and whether I am, in fact, one of those people predisposed to heart disease due to my genetics.
Dr Amie King shared her own personal story with us and told us how she had been so affected by the illness and death of a close family member that she trained to become a doctor herself. It was a truly moving story.
Although all very interesting, I had noticed that not many BCS members (cardiologists) attended the CCPUK sessions. While the conference provides a forum for a patient voice, I do wonder if there are ways that the voice may be more loudly heard.
Nevertheless, I can say that I enjoyed attending the conference and it did meet my aims to a very significant extent.”