“This is democratisation of voice,” he says. “It’s incredibly exciting. We’re not quite on the leading edge of Web 2, but we are on the leading edge of where it hits the NHS.” He says the site, which operates as an intermediary, enabling patients to tell hospitals what they think and to make suggestions for improvements, and for the hospitals to respond, “allows that public structured conversation about micro aspects of service which hasn’t happened up to now”
But he also points to an ever-present danger for successful innovators in British civil society today
Looking ahead, Hodgkin believes the Patient Opinion model could, with adjustments, be adapted to other services, such as the criminal justice system. But as far as his NHS model is concerned, he accepts that planning ahead remains difficult. For example, while the Department of Health has been supportive – it provided some set-up funding – he says there is a risk that if the site is successful, ministers might be tempted to establish a centralised, and therefore not independent, version.
Paul is a super guy with a passionate small team working with him to realise his vision of giving voice to patient stories, experiences and concerns. He is precisely the sort of dynamic, values-driven social entrepreneur the third sector needs to deliver innovative projects such as Patient Opinion
The idea may be replicable, but the spirit and energy behind it is not.