Leading Leicestershire GP and chairman of West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (WL CCG), Professor Mayur Lakhani, is urging healthcare professionals to strengthen their connection with patients by introducing themselves by name, and fully involving patients in decisions about their treatment to ensure that local people get the best possible care.
Professor Lakhani, also chair of the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) and Dying Matters, believes that health care can be transformed locally through the concept of people powered health. This involves doctors and nurses making a greater effort to connect with their patients; patients asking more questions about their diagnosis and treatment and taking steps to improve their own health; and more information about their hospital and GP’s performance being available to patients to enable them to ask questions and take part in co-designing better services.
Although most people know the name of their GP, quite often they do not know the names of all the doctors and nurses who are treating them, particularly in hospital. Professor Lakhani said: “We are lucky to have some of the best GPs and consultants in the country. As doctors, patients trust us with detailed information and are entitled to know the name of the doctor or nurse who is treating them. They also need to be given the chance to be more actively involved in decisions about their health. A doctor-patient partnership allows choices, risks and benefits of medication or operation to be explained and more sensible and tailored decisions to be made. This concept is called shared decision-making.”
Professor Lakhani is also backing the #hellomyname campaign to get doctors to introduce themselves to patients, started by Dr Kate Grainger – a courageous young woman suffering from advanced cancer who noticed that many doctors were failing to introduce themselves by name to their patients.
People powered health is particularly important in enabling patients end of life care to be tailored to their own wishes and needs, so ahead of Dying Matters Awareness Week (12-18 May) the CCG is encouraging more people to talk openly about dying and death and to put in place advance care plans with the help of doctors and nurses.
Professor Lakhani continued: “People often shy away from talking openly about dying, death and bereavement, but discussing with your doctor and friends or family what treatment you would like to receive if you become seriously ill in the future is in everyone’s interests. It can help to reduce worry and give you some control at the end of your life.
“People want a relationship with their doctor, rather than being treated as a number. I passionately believe a simple introduction is the start of that professional relationship and the beginning of compassion and accountability. I urge patients to be empowered and talk to their doctors about their treatment and/or end of life care wishes and for all healthcare professionals to take the time to engage with their patients”.
A guide to help patients consider what care and treatment they might like to receive if they should become seriously ill, disabled or unable to make decisions for themselves in the future is available here and a range of information and support on dealing with dying death and bereavement can be found at www.dyingmatters.org