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Spotlight on: Mike Dixon | The Independent Community Health Voice

With thanks to Mike Dixon, Chairman

 

We spoke with Mike Dixon, Chairman of The Independent Community Health Voice about his community involvement, the importance of patient representation and the value of local community groups including condition support groups.

 


The Independent Community Health Voice

The Independent Community Health Voice is a patient involvement group active across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. Their key aim is to act as an independent patient voice, providing insights to a range of committees and activities across the NHS, social care and associated bodies.

Mike explained how his involvement in patient representation began after he noticed a poster for South Stoke Primary Care Trust proposed patient group during a time in hospital, which inspired him to get involved. From this, in 2004 he assisted in the founding of South Stoke Community Health Voice which acted across South Stoke to create a patient participation and representation group, which grew to become Citywide following the merge of the north and south PCTs. In 2011 the Group became wholly independent and followed the footprint for community health services by including Staffordshire in its remit.

18 years later TICHV continues to be an active source of patient representation, with an extensive network of patients and views. As part of their work, they hold monthly meetings which have adapted to becoming virtual since the Covid-19 pandemic to discuss and comment on health and social care proposals. A second key aspect of the organisation, particularly via the meetings and emailing to a large database of recipients, is in the collation and spread of health information, which is where the project links with Community Health Champions in providing information, broadening knowledge and providing a space where people are comfortable to speak and discuss health and social care, two areas which Mike stresses are an important linkage.

Mike himself is also active in the community as a patient with lived experience and a volunteer, sitting on a range of committees across Staffordshire within the health and social care sector. He is part of Keele University User and Carer Group as a volunteer and patient, is on the board of the local Healthwatch, sits on ICB and Community Health Services meetings. When occasion or topic demands has peripheral involvement with the UHNM patient group and NSCHT, together with other community activities relevant to improving lives for the population.

Amongst all of this valuable work, Mike identifies two important aspects of the project, and community groups overall: independence and the power of groups. TICHV value their independence greatly, and Mike stresses the necessity of local community groups to make the larger bodies realise that there is a user and patient voice, with valuable insights that must be heard.