Be a Health Services Lay Assessor
Have an active say in the way your local NHS is run. Whether you are a patient, a carer or simply a concerned member of the public, health services lay assessors ensure that health services are supporting their communities. Not only will you learn about the way the NHS works you will gain experience in teamwork, interviewing and leadership skills.
What Does a Lay Assessor Do?A lay assessor works with clinical medical staff to review health services. They look at the quality of outcomes and help to challenge the assumptions of clinical staff. They ensure that reviews are completely objective. You will develop skills in interviewing, mediation and decision making. Volunteering as a lay assessor is a good preparation for a career in medicine or health service management.
Who can Volunteer?Lay assessors need tact and diplomacy to deal with any difficult issues which may arise. They come from all walks of life and may have been a patient or will be able to put forward a patient’s point of view. You need objectivity and an ability to respect confidentiality.
You must be able to spare several days a year and be prepared to learn about the structure and workings of the NHS. You will have an independent point of view and cannot be a health professional. Familiarity with local issues is a bonus. Although mediation and interviewing skills are desirable training in that area will be given.
Volunteering as a lay assessor does not affect welfare benefits and there is usually a nominal payment per visit or session. If selected you will undergo a Criminal Records Bureau/Disclosure Scotland background check.
What is Involved?Training sessions are provided. These give an overview of the NHS, its service and targets as well as in mediation and interviewing skills. There may be the opportunity to take on the role of chair.
Alongside medical practitioners lay assessors interview staff and service users and visit GP practices and hospitals. A visit may take up to a day of the assessor’s time. They review how well services are operating and support patient choice. You will also need to allow time to read and prepare before any visits or interviews and to follow up afterwards.
Services you will consider include those in primary care, most people’s first point of contact, such as GPs, opticians, dentists, district nurses and walk-in centres. Intermediary care services which liaise to support patients from primary care to secondary care, are also reviewed.
Assessors’ remit also includes secondary care (usually hospitals), specialist services – which work in particular areas (such as well women clinics) and support services (such as the ambulance service.)
Issues under consideration may include key national issues such as reducing waiting times, improving access and improving health. These may be considered in the context of existing National Frameworks. You will also consider local demographics (e.g. age), particularly vulnerable groups e.g. refugees and local issues such as local targets, specific disease or health concerns and community health projects.
Lay assessors offer person-centred input and can also help in identifying service gaps across a range of providers in the area so that overall improvements can be made that will benefit their community.