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Be a patient representative

July 2016
Graham Shepherd, who lives in Shrewsbury will soon be celebrating his 76th birthday. A retired Chartered Engineer, he has dedicated the last six years to championing the patient voice working with Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and other health services.  
With no intention of slowing down, Graham has reflected on his journey as a patient representative.   
“I had been retired for a number of years, when I went into Marden Medical Practice in 2010. The practice was looking for people to become patient representatives. Initially I was a little sceptical, but after chatting to people at the surgery, I was persuaded to join and haven’t looked back since.
Graham may have started at a practice level, but soon he was involved in countywide projects and is also a patient representative on Shropshire CCG’s Board ensuring the patient views are heard by senior leaders. 
Graham said: “I was asked to be part of the group looking at the Care Strategy (2011-2014), as well as the Urgent Care Working Group. I was also lucky enough to shadow Dr Peter Clowes, who was the Transformation Director at the time, and who was looking at the current processes at the hospitals. I become engrossed in the whole process very quickly and it’s just gone on from there.”
As a former engineer Graham is used to building things, and getting a real sense of satisfaction from the final product. Future Fit is arguably one of Graham’s longest building projects, but he says he is still committed to the programme. 
“Future Fit needs to continue. I think the core objectives from day one still exist and the clinical model that we arrived at is still sound. We are still working to that clinical model but we are approaching the issues from a different direction.  In the past three years there have been major changes in the way that we need to provide health.
“I still think the big issue with Future Fit is getting complete buy in from all providers. There are a few stumbling blocks – particularly around finance and staffing levels – which have to be resolved.  But I believe the core objectives for Future Fit, particularly around getting treatment and care closer to home, are good for patients in the long run.”  
Graham is a champion for the patient voice, and believes that health services have changed as a result of patients getting involved. Graham now, wants to encourage more people to take on the challenge of becoming a patient representative. 
“I think they appreciate our views because sometimes we come at things from a different perspective.”  
“I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a patient representative, I have been involved in so many interesting projects and have got to meet some fantastic people. I would encourage anyone to become a patient representative. It is a commitment and it can take up a lot of your time, but it is also immensely rewarding as well. Sometimes I can be out six times a week, but the best thing is you can be involved as little or as much as you like. You don’t have to be retired like me to get involved; we definitely need to encourage younger people to join in as well, to help us be truly representative.”
Dr Julian Povey, Chair of Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “I want to thank Graham, and the many other patient representatives who work with us every day. Graham and his colleagues help us ensure we keep patients at the heart of our decisions.
“Over the last six years, Graham’s insight has been invaluable to us. He has given up his time, to attend many meetings and always provided a voice of reason. He is passionate about making a difference, particularly working to improve urgent care and frail and elderly services.  
“I would like to wish Graham a very happy birthday with his friends and family.”