The Health Consumer Advisory Service was established by the Health Navigator Charitable Trust with funding from the Ministry of Health in 2015. Its purpose is to increase engagement of consumers in the design, planning and development of health services in New Zealand.
The primary focus is to have a positive impact on equity and the design of more effective health services, systems and supports for those affected by long-term conditions.
The role of the Health Consumer Advisory Service is to provide a consumer perspective on matters concerning long-term conditions to the following bodies:
- Ministry of Health teams
- other government departments engaged in health service delivery
- publicly funded agencies engaged in health services
- private healthcare provider agencies.
The exact nature of the service provided in any given assignment depends on the requirements of the client. The services may include:
- participation as members of local, regional and national steering groups, particularly groups set up to review or redesign various services
- provision of feedback on potential tools and services
- input at workshops to help co-design future services or resources
- testing of ideas with their own peers and networks
- delivery of workshops about consumer advocacy and working with consumers
- other forms of feedback and engagement.
Assignments for members of the Health Consumer Advisory Service 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 teleconferencing and video-conferencing.
The contract to support and coordinate the work of the Health Consumer Advisory Service is held by the Health Navigator Charitable Trust, which reports to the Ministry of Health. The Trust has a strong interest in optimising the prevention and management of long-term conditions and in 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 the Health Consumer Advisory Service manager Susie Hill by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- Service coordinator: Gary Sutcliffe
- Service manager: Susie Hill
- Clinical director & sponsor: Dr Janine Bycroft
Client agency request form
You can also fill in the client request form here.
Consumers available to give input into health services
Consumer advisors Mary Campbell (second 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 are 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 a health consumer 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 available for health providers to access
After a year of successful projects predominantly for the Ministry of Health, the service became 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 are 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 6 projects, including 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 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 has 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 accessing 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.”
For health providers
To find out how to include consumer advisors in your service planning or service review, contact:
Gary Sutcliffe at: email@example.com
To get more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
Charmaine Vaughan firstname.lastname@example.org