The Health Consumer Advisory Service was established by the Ministry of Health in February 2015. The purpose and role are to increase engagement of consumers in the design, planning and development of health services throughout New Zealand.
The primary focus of the Advisory Service is to engage consumers directly in the design of more effective health services, systems and support for those affected by long term conditions.
The role of the Service is to provide a consumer perspective on matters concerning long-term conditions to:
- Ministry of Health teams
- Other government departments engaged in health service delivery
- Publicly funded agencies engaged in health services
- Private health care provider agencies
The exact nature of the service provided in any given assignment will depend on the requirements of the client. The services may include:
- Provision of feedback on potential tools and services
- Input at workshops to help co-design future resources
- Testing of ideas with their own peers and networks
- Other forms of feedback and engagement
Initial client assignments have included:
- Ministry of Health Hepatitis C project team
- Interventional Cardiac Registry governance group
- NZ Cardiac Surgery Registry governance group
- CVD, Diabetes and Long Term Conditions self-management workshops
- Technology in General Practice workshop
- Pharmacy Action Plan
- Ministry of Health CVD, Diabetes and Long Term Conditions advisory group
Assignments are generally undertaken on a face-to-face basis though have included tele-conferencing and video-conferencing.
The contract to support and coordinate the work of the Advisory Service is held by Health Navigator Charitable Trust who report to the Ministry of Health. The Trust has a strong interest in optimising the prevention and management of long-term conditions and co-production, where services are designed from the outset with consumers, service users and communities to improve fit, relevance and benefit.
Organisations or groups interested to know more about the service are welcome to contact our coordinator Gary Sutcliffe by emailing email@example.com.
Client Request Form
You can also fill in the following client request form which can be downloaded here.
Patients available to give input into health services
Consumer advisors Mary Campbell, (2nd from left) Marj Allan (centre front) and Gary Sutcliffe (right) as part of the Kaiāwhina Workforce Taskforce.
Consumers are the heart of our health system and increasingly sought out by health providers to help improve patient services.
To make it easy to find consumers willing and able to give that valuable input is the purpose of an advisory service established by the Health Navigator Charitable Trust and the Ministry of Health.
The Health Consumer Advisory Service was set up in February 2015 to deliver patient perspectives and experiences to health providers.
Health Navigator Charitable Trust Clinical Director, Dr Janine Bycroft, says the fact the service is up and running is proof the Government sees value in including health consumers in the process of designing and maintaining patient services.
“It’s vital that consumers are part of the team to create an effective health system,” she says. “Consumers can help organisations create more effective, equitable and positive services for their patients. It’s about meeting people’s needs and not just medical needs – it’s wider than that.”
Service now available for other health groups to access
After a year of successful projects predominantly for the Ministry of Health, the service is now also available to the wider health sector. “You’ll be amazed by the difference consumers can make,” Dr Bycroft says.
The service is keen to hear from any health group that wants to design and run a patient-centred service. The process of recruiting advisors is simple, and their practical suggestions based on their experiences were invaluable, according to Ministry of Health senior advisor for CVD diabetes long-term conditions, James Greenwell.
Successful projects from patient input
Mr Greenwell has used the Health Consumer Advisory Service on six projects, which included developing a retinal screening service and changing CV risk assessment guidelines.
“For the retinal project, we had two advisors who explained they needed more warnings about some of the procedures so they could arrange for extra help and support and then plan properly.
“The advisors catch a lot of these types of issues. Those details can get overlooked so easily,” Mr Greenwell says. “They’re part of the debate and dialogue and their opinions carry equal weight to that of the clinicians involved.”
A broad range of organisations and clinical networks have also found the service useful for re-designing their services, Dr Bycroft says. “It’s important for all organisations and health providers to pause and ask themselves, is the service working, what’s aspects are working well and what’s not. If you could start with a clean slate, what would you do differently?”
How the service works
Service coordinator and advisor Gary Sutcliffe says the service currently has nine consumer representatives from around the country with a variety of different backgrounds and health experiences. “A consumer advisor will be selected to work with a group according to their patient perspective and lived experience,” he says.
Advisors are carefully selected for their experience with one or more long-term conditions. Sometimes, they may also have supported family and friends through health services.
Careful matching of the consumer with the organisation ensures that high quality, relevant consumer input is provided. Each consumer is trained and mentored throughout the process.
“Where necessary, we teach them about the language of studies and data, and help with how to get the most out of meetings. That is invaluable – it can be daunting otherwise”
To find out how you could be including consumer advisors in your service planning or service review, contact:
For health providers:
Gary Sutcliffe at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For media: to get more information or to arrange an interview:
Charmaine Vaughan email@example.com