Durka Dougall challenges NHS leaders to work more closely with patients, carers and staff in order to understand what’s important to them and to make the tough decisions together.

The message from every speaker and through every presentation at the Fund’s seventh annual leadership summit was clear – intensely portrayed by passionate descriptions and powerful images: we need to hear the stories, we need to work with compassion together, we need to care.

‘I felt pain… I couldn’t speak… I felt so scared… but I was still there… I was still me…’ The moving story recounted by Kate Allatt of her frightening experience with locked-in syndrome brought back vivid memories of my work as a doctor. I remembered the countless times I had seen patients unable to fully express their stories – for pain, for fear of embarrassment or being a burden, because they didn’t know, or couldn’t say, because there wasn’t enough time. But I also remember the tremendous difference it made when we took time to elicit this information – and how essential it was in providing safe and effective care....

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