The King’s Fund in a new report ‘Changing Relationships’ calls for a shift in the way in which health professionals and patients interact. The report is based on the Patient Involvement Project, that set out to assess changing relationships between health professionals and patients/clients in a changing health environment.The study found that progress towards patient empowerment, increased patient choice and patient-centred service was not well advanced. Whilst there was evidence of enthusiasm, self-reflection, and innovation among some, there was also a degree of intransigence among other respondents. Change will be difficult without adequate funding and staffing levels. A climate of low morale is also hampering progress. A patient-centred approach will be more difficult to achieve where there is social exclusion.
The report calls for a change in practice, attitudes, structures and philosophy in order to promote a modern approach to health care delivery in which power and decision-making are shared and face-to-face relationships are more equal. Health professionals need to be equipped with new skills in order to meet these challenges.
Other agencies – such as education services, local authority library services, social security and immigration services – all need to work together to enable citizens to make appropriate choices in their health care.
The report is skeptical about the progress that can be made towards shifting the balance of power towards patients as long as central Government continues to hold its grip on services.