Wednesday, 5th August 2020

Industry and agency experts joined the PM Society’s Patient Engagement webinar on the 5th August to examine how systems have adapted to cope with COVID-19, the impact of innovative new services in community care, and hear insights from real patients whose care has been affected by coronavirus.

Watch the full webinar recording below.


The PM Society was joined by a panel of experts from a range of backgrounds to discuss how existing healthcare systems have adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. This included insight from a patient who gave their perspective on the innovative new services being offered in the management of their care. The event was chaired by Jon Hoggard, Patient Engagement Director at Nucleus Global.

The Webinar opened with Claire Murray, Director at Aurora Healthcare Communications, who outlined the work she’s led on capturing the ‘patient voice’ following the outbreak of COVID-19. Aurora surveyed a panel of patients about how their treatment had changed under the new conditions. The stories they heard back were ones of anxiety, problems with accessing medication and difficulties finding disease specific information. Claire stated that, “if services are to continue to adapt in positive ways, then we should involve patients in those redesign discussions.”

In this spirit, Sue Allen joined the conversation. As a former nurse who was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and later lung cancer, Sue painted a positive picture of her own treatment management over the months leading up to the webinar and spoke on the future potential for virtual methods. She stated that, if utilised effectively, methods such as telephone/virtual consultations and online prescriptions could be influential in increasing patients’ wellbeing while also freeing up economic resources for reinvestment into other aspects of the healthcare system.

We were then joined by Graham Thoms, CEO of Pharmadoctor, the leading provider of clinical services and support packages to UK pharmacies. Graham gave an overview of how pharmacies have adapted to the ‘new normal’ and the key services they continue to provide. He explained that pharmacies have not only remained open despite the drop in over-the-counter sales, the massive staff shortages due to illness and self-isolation, and the lack of PPE, but have also succeeded in providing walk-in consultations and longer opening hours, with some even providing twenty-four hours services. Graham expects the pharmacy to play an even more prominent role going forward, as the government plans to place pharmacies as the “first point of call for all patients with minor ailments” as part of the NHS’ new Community Pharmacy Consultation Services (CPCS).

The meeting closed with our final speaker, Pam Green, the Chief Operating Officer at the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), who gave an eye-opening description of a local collaborative response to the COVID-19 crisis. Pam has taken a leading role over the past 4 years, “to create an integrated care system as well as a local alliance, which includes the voluntary sector, charities, hospices, GPs, and mental health trusts.” She noted that this integrated system has been essential in responding to the many logistical challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, examples of which include the PPE shortages, delivering food to those who are shielding, and the switch to virtual consultations, which saw them deliver 200 additional laptops to the 35 clinical practices in their area. Pam expressed the importance of building on the key learnings from the North East Essex CCG and applying these to other areas of the country, reiterating how essential it is to capture the patient voice, and for collaborative leadership and mutual aid in order to effectively respond to patient need during this time of crisis.

Thanks to all our speakers for giving up their time to provide their insight into how our industry can adapt and respond to patient need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many thanks also to all of our attendees who joined us live.

Event report written by Fiona Hammond, Hamell