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My AHSN Connection – Tony Watkin

Tony Watkin. Photography by Carrie Hitchcock

Tony Watkin is Patient and Public Involvement Lead at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust. Here he writes about how the West of England AHSN helped his team to develop a group of patient and public advocates who now help shape health services in the West of England.

I have worked with the AHSN since the early days of People in Health West of England (PHWE). We’ve all spent time trying to figure out the best way to give patients and the public a voice in the development and management of health services in the West of England.

With the support of the AHSN we joined up with partners at North Bristol NHS Trust and Bristol Community Health and, with an external facilitator, worked through how to train and support patients who wanted to take on an advocacy role.

Watching the AHSN pull together a team of public contributors inspired us and others to have the confidence to recruit and develop our own Patient and Community Leadership Programme. We learned from each other’s experiences and gained confidence to develop our work and approach. Pulling together 16 diverse individuals, training and developing them into effective Healthcare Change Makers has been a big leap for us all.

Where the AHSN has been so effective is at working across the system and bringing people together to provide mutual learning and support – even linking us up with other AHSNs who had valuable experiences to share.

Not only have we managed to recruit and engage patient leaders, we are also working together to advance thinking in the area. Traditional patient involvement can centre on simply harvesting information. Now we are moving to actively involving patients as leaders working collaboratively in designing change. Again, the AHSN is leading the way, and helping to provide a context for the rest of us to operate in.


This story is a highlight from our 2017/18 annual review: joining the dots to healthcare innovation. Check out the full review here.


Posted on September 3, 2018 by Tony Watkin, Patient and Public Involvement Lead, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust

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