Dr Graham Jackson

Dr Graham Jackson, Chair, NHS Clinical Commissioners, explains how a shared passion for self care got us to this point.

Encouraging and enabling self care has been for many years a goal shared by numerous organisations across the health system.

In October 2019, that common objective brought together a group of those organisations whose initial aim was to agree a shared view of self care among the clinical community.

We discussed, we debated and ultimately we published our consensus statement on self care, which included a series of recommendations headed by the call for a national self care strategy.

It felt like a significant moment. We had worked together constructively and collaboratively; now we would push as far as possible for the adoption of our proposals.

A few months later, the world – and the world of healthcare – came face to face with COVID-19.

It became obvious very quickly that the pandemic would affect NHS services in almost every conceivable way, as well as reinforcing the case for more widespread effective, appropriate self care.

We recognised the need to revisit and update our consensus statement in recognition of those changes. We could not possibly ignore, for example, the speed and scale at which the NHS adopted a raft of digital services, or the co-ordinated effort to ensure people seeking online information about COVID-19 were directed towards reliable sources.

Both were key to realising our vision of a health system that helps more people to self care, thereby reducing heath inequalities and improving outcomes.

We were witnessing shifts in policy and behaviour that could unlock the door to more and better self care, and we did not want that opportunity to pass.

But we were also acutely aware that drafting a national self care strategy was unlikely to take priority for ministers and policymakers during a global pandemic – however genuine their support for the value and benefits of that proposition.

The answer to the problem, in the end, was an obvious one. As a group, we went back to the table, this time not simply to call for a national self care strategy but to create our own blueprint for that strategy.

I am delighted to have played a part in its inception and I look forward to working further alongside the consensus group and others towards the adoption of a national self care strategy.

Download the blueprint self care strategy