Life is like underwear – change is good…

Posted 11:32 Friday 12 May 2017
Elouise Smith

Elouise Smith

About this blogger
Change is good

Four weeks ago, I returned from an eight month break from work and from London. Within my first week back I was struck by a number of amusing examples of how people make adaptions to make travelling easier in the city. My first observation was a fluffy dog at Kings Cross station wearing rubber shoes, presumably to give him a better grip on the escalators. The next encounter was a super smart business woman wearing skyscraper heels travelling around on a push-along scooter on her way to a meeting in Granary Square. I am sure we have all seen the doggy buggies being used to push those canines less inclined to walk in the traditional way with their owners.


Last Tuesday Nick (Managing Director at MES) and I participated in a workshop hosted by NHS England. The focus of the day was to discuss a possible framework and procurement solution for NHS organisations to access support in relation to their Patient and Public Participation activities. The workshop was designed to bring together suppliers and purchasers of Patient and Public Participation services. It is rare that suppliers are given the opportunity to network and spend time speaking freely and openly about some of the frustrations and possible solutions to help NHS procurement. Social value was one of the topics of conversation.

The people at http://www.socialvalueuk.org/ define social value as the relative importance that people place on the changes they experience in their lives. Some, but not all of this value is captured in market prices. It is important to consider and measure this social value from the perspective of those affected by an organisation’s work.

Examples of social value might be the value we experience from increasing our confidence, or from living next to a community park. These things are important to us, but are not commonly expressed or measured in the same way that financial value is.

What was most interesting for me was hearing from others about the real outcomes of doing such work and the social value that good Patient and Public Participation brings. The conversation undoubtedly raised as many new questions as it answered. One of the questions on my table was ‘what is the weighting of social value if it is included in a tender specification, is it more or less important than the cost’. And the age-old question came up again too - ‘How do you measure social value?’. What value is to one person may not be value to the next. Often we are faced with the prospect of having to deliver a project to a challenging timeframe or to a tight budget or perhaps both (ouch!). The potential risk here is that the social value or outcomes of a project can be lost. The result is a ticked box, but no legacy left to the people in that community.

The fact that the workshop even happened was promising in that supplier opinions and thoughts were being factored in before the decision was made about whether another framework is even the solution. This made me think about the adaptions that I noticed when I returned to work; how people faced with issues made a change to make life easier and simpler. I am looking forward to seeing the next steps from the NHS England workshop and feel refreshed at having discussed some of the issues that other suppliers encounter both inside and outside the healthcare sector. It was great to feel that we were all working towards a common goal.

Next week, on 16th May, MES will be hosting our second Challenge 2020 conference at 30 Euston Square. Here we will be looking at the challenges for leadership in embedding engagement, and making sure that it becomes ‘business as usual’. We’ll be exploring impact and positive outcomes. If you have not already done so, tickets are still available to order and you can get them here.

For now, I am signing off inspired that NHS England have took the time out to listen and work with suppliers and I’m looking forward to the MES health conference next week. Now where did I put my heels…?

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