Patient Leadership in Practice


A six-month programme led by David Gilbert to help you influence change through collaboration.

6 monthly sessions of 4 hours
Online via Zoom

What is Patient Leadership?

It is all about how Patient Leaders – those affected by life-changing illness, injury or disability, including carers – can influence decision-making in healthcare through partnership working. It is founded in the passion, insight and wisdom that people bring from the caves of suffering; also the ‘frozen assets’ – those qualities people had, or still have through their personal and professional lives – that were disrupted and need thawing out.

Recent NICE Guidance on Shared Decision Making has endorsed the notion of Patient Leadership by saying that all healthcare organisations and systems should consider employing a Patient Director, alongside others in improvement and governance roles who have healthcare conditions.

What you will learn

This is a six-month programme during which you will learn:

  • Background to Patient Leadership – where it came from and what it means;
  • Qualities needed to be an effective Patient Leader;
  • Support required to be a successful Patient Leader;
  • Creating the conditions for patient leadership – including support for staff
  • Embedding patient leadership in organisations and systems

You will develop knowledge and understanding of patient leadership in practice through a mixture of taught material, external presenters, interactive discussion, group learning and ongoing support.

Who it is for

It is for BOTH patients/carers & staff (clinical, non-clinical, managers, policy makers) at local, system-wide and national level – in statutory services, third sector, research, training and education, regulation, commissioning and policy-making

The Applied Patient Leadership Programme is suitable for people who have been through the Foundations in Patient Leadership Programme and those starting off who want to apply their expertise in practice. It is particularly suitable as a programme of learning and support for those involved in engagement activities who want a chance to reflect and get support along the way.

How it works

The course comprises six, four-hour sessions each month, delivered remotely via zoom. Each session will comprise a mixture of content delivery, external expert input, the offer of conceptual frameworks, small and plenary group discussions and ongoing peer support. Each participant will also receive individual mentoring support between each session.

What it costs

The cost of the programme is £650 for 30 hours learning. That works out at about  £20/hour.

When it will take place

There is currently no scheduled programme, but please do get in touch if you wish to register your interest.

The framework for the course

We will adapt the programme to people’s needs. But broadly:

Session One

We will look at the background to Patient Leadership – where it came from and what it means and why it augments (and challenges) traditional approaches to patient and public engagement.

Sessions Two & Three

These sessions will explore the qualities of an effective patient leader. This will look at intra-personal and interpersonal qualities (such as relational skills), then look more broadly at what one needs to navigate systems and have deeper organisational influence. We will explore some key qualities in more depth, depending on needs, such as:

  • Anchoring yourself and your role in what matters
  • Judicious use of story-telling
  • How to engage in difficult conversations
  • Influence and power
  • Navigating systems

Sessions Four & Five

Moving on to consider the support needed to be an effective patient leader and how to create the conditions for patient leadership. This includes looking at the role of clinical and non-clinical staff. And we will look in depth at models to embed patient leadership, such as the Patient Leadership Triangle. We will look in detail at the role of a Patient Director.

Session Six

An opportunity to reflect and plan next steps.

What people have said

Would encourage health care professionals to attend this - thought provoking and made me see how we should (as opposed to current practice) engage those with lived experience in meaningful ways. Zoom in from home!


David Gilbert is like a Sherpa on Mount Everest. Tomorrow’s improvers in healthcare will come with both learned and/ or lived experience. It is important to demand knowledge and wisdom in a patient partner. This is where you learn from the best


Took David’s course and found it very helpful to experience the wisdom ‘at source’ from his many, many years of experience and reflection


I wish all involved in healthcare could attend this course. David's training was insightful, thought-provoking & developed my knowledge of approaches and attitudes towards meaningful service user engagement. It built my confidence and helped me to understand that my 'skills' have value. I have been empowered in my role.

Someone with a long-term health condition

I did the first cycle of this and thoroughly recommend it - provides both helpful framework for critical thinking and more practical strategy tips for getting things done. Well worth attending!

Lived Experience Practitioner


No programme currently scheduled

About David Gilbert

David is Director of InHealth Associates. He is a former mental health service user and author of ‘The Patient Revolution – how we can heal the healthcare system’. He has 35 years’ experience of working with, and for patients. He was the first Patient Director in the NHS at the Sussex MSK Partnership (Central) and has been Head of Patients and the Public at the Commission for Health Improvement, and Patient and Public Involvement Director at NHS Croydon. He has also worked at the Kings Fund, OPM and Consumer Association.