Patients Association

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The Patients Association is a lobby group operating in the UK that aims to improve patients' experience of health care.[1] Established in 1963, it is one of the oldest independent Charities in the UK and became a registered charity in 1991.[2] Its current campaigns[3] include:

The Patients Association runs a helpline for patients and relatives on all non-clinical matters relating to the NHS or private healthcare. In particular it can provide advice on the NHS complaints process, access to medical records, living wills and patients rights.

It receives most of its funding from individual and corporate membership,[4] and projects carried out with Organisational Members.[5] It receives a smaller amount of funding through donations from patients, the public, and grant giving charitable organisations.

On 27 November 2013, it was announced that Robert Francis, QC had become the president of the Patients Association.[6]


The Patients Association was set up in 1963 by Helen Hodgson, a part-time teacher who was motivated by recent events concerning the drug thalidomide, reports of patients receiving the wrong treatment and tests being carried out on patients without their informed consent.

Over the years the Association has monitored trends in patient satisfaction and opinion; promoted the voice of the patient in NHS and private healthcare; represented the patient’s viewpoint to official bodies such as the Department of Health, medical and nursing colleges and professional organisations such as the British Medical Association and General Medical Council; provided an advisory service for patients and their relatives; offered patients the opportunity to share their experiences of the whole range of healthcare services; campaigned on issues such as hospital conditions, waiting lists and visiting hours, standards of care, patient consent, codes of practice regarding use of patients in teaching, subject access to medical records, and confidentiality.

Dame Ezliabeth Acroyd become the president from 1971-1978 and from 1978 she was appointed as the Chair. She was considered to be the heart and soul of the Association in terms of representation on committees and working parties, engagement with the media, attending events, and (with a small industrious staff) the day-to-day business and running of the organisation. A source of formidable energy and enthusiasm, as well as running the Association Dame Elizabeth held prominent roles in the Consumer Council established in 1963, the Consumers’ Association and numerous other voluntary organizations.


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