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What is a lay member for patient and public engagement?

A lay member is someone who has expertise and experience at a senior level in patient and public involvement, and who has a good knowledge of our local communities.  They also bring experience of working at board level in a large organisation.

In every aspect of the CCG’s business, our lay member helps ensure that local people’s voices are heard and that opportunities to empower people, and get them involved in co-design  are created and protected for patient and public.

Our lay member is also responsible for holding service providers (such as NHS trusts) to account for their patient and public involvement.

Introducing Pam Essler, our lay member for patient and public involvement

Pam EsslerAs a graduate biologist Pam has taught all age groups from 5 to 50-plus. A poor experience of parental access while her young son was an in hospital initiated her long-standing involvement with the NHS - as a lay person at a local, regional and national level.  She was deputy chair of the board at Airedale Hospital before moving to Airedale Primary Care Trust where she was chair for a period prior to the merger resulting in Bradford and Airedale Teaching Primary Care Trust where she became deputy chair.  Pam was the first independent chair of the Standards Committee of Bradford Council where she was involved in the development of the ethical governance framework and oversaw the associated complaints process.

Pam has strong links with the local Voluntary and Community Sector. She is deputy chair of Community Action Bradford and Airedale, an infrastructure organisation that provides support to local voluntary groups.  In addition she is trustee of a number of local charities supporting health and social care amongst which is Bradford and Airedale Citizen’s Advice Bureau and Bradford Law Centre which she chairs.

Pam has four grandchildren, who she spends lots of time with and jokingly refers to looking after them as her new exercise regime.

Pam’s membership of CCG committees

Pam is a member of a number of CCG committees and other meetings, including:

Information about the roles of these committees is available our annual report.

How Pam holds Airedale Wharfedale and Craven CCG to account for their patient and public involvement

"Managers and clinicians working for the CCG decide how best to spend the money that has been allocated to provide services that meets the needs of the local population. My role at Governing Body level is to get assurance that where needed the public has been involved - I do this by reviewing any information I am given and providing constructive challenge where necessary. This means that the public are involved in deciding priorities, reviewing or redesigning services or giving their views on the quality of services provided. As part of this all the papers provided for discussion at public Governing Body meetings have a section on patient and public involvement. In addition a summary of present patient and public activity linked to all aspects of the work of the CCG on the agenda of every meeting of the Governing Body."

"Below the Governing Body there is a committee structure where lay members can review in greater depth how the public is involved with the work of the CCG."

"A key element of the lay member role is to ensure that engagement is meaningful – that there is sufficient capacity and capability to reach a wide section of the population. The Involve group provides the opportunity for the lay members to question those who design and deliver the engagement work in order to gain confidence that it is appropriate for the needs of the population."

"The Joint Quality Committee is a key mechanism for lay members to gain assurance that what has been planned and is being provided by GPs and hospitals is of the right quality and meeting the needs of the population. Patient feedback through our reporting mechanism, Grassroots, provides us with information regarding the patient experience and allows us to hold our providers to account for the services they provide. As well as looking at a range of key indicators, for example waiting times, that are important to people we also look at complaints trends to see where improvement may be needed."

"The Primary Care Commissioning Committee is where scrutiny is focused on GP surgeries. Data on all the GP practices is reviewed to make sure that they are meeting their contractual requirements and their services meet the needs of their patient populations. Assurance is again sought that views of the public are a key strand when any changes to services are planned." 

What are Pam’s particular interests as a lay member?

"My key interest as a lay member is to develop a strong level of trust and understanding between health professionals and the public so that we can plan and develop services together with better outcomes for all."

As a lay member, what recent initiatives has Pam been involved in?

"The review of community services within the Craven area of the CCG was a large piece of engagement work that I was closely involved with. My role was to make sure that due process was followed, adequate resources were allocated to the work and that the diversity of this large rural area was taken into account. The outcome of the consultation was that Castleberg hospital would remain open and a close partnership has been developed with the community of Settle to look at extending the range of organisations that provide services from this base."

"Community partnerships have been established within each of the three main geographical areas within the CCG. All three partnerships have an inclusive membership of health, social services and the voluntary sector. In addition they have carried out community engagement with their very local populations to decide on future priorities for services within their area. The approach has been different in each area and I have been involved in this work."