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Patient and Carer Network (PCN)

The Patient and Carer Network (PCN) is a network of volunteers in England and Wales who support and shape the work of the Royal College of Physicians. 

What does the PCN do?

We help to redesign health care

We work with diverse teams of healthcare professionals to improve health outcomes. The Modern Ward Rounds guidance describes how care can be delivered in hospital in partnership with patients, families and carers. Read the report here.

We strive to make healthcare safer

We use our lived experience to work with clinicians to create useful resources like the medicine safety checklist.

You can read more about it in our blogs here.

We want to make experiences better

We help to improve difficult conversations. In our work on the Talking about Dying report, we held an online focus group to bring members together to share their personal experiences of talking about dying. This fed into the development and revision of guidance that helps clinicians to talk to their patients and families in an honest, timely and sensitive manner.

We support and influence the work of the RCP

The PCN is a key partner in the work of RCP specialty committees, boards and working groups. We sit on RCP journal editorial boards and contribute to Commentary magazine. As representatives, we are able to influence and provide the patient perspective to groups of specialist clinicians, highlighting why patient and carer expertise is important and how it can be better utilised.

You can read our latest Commentary article here or a longer version here.

You can read our evaluation and guidance to make engagement better.

Becoming a member

Everyone is a patient at some point in their lives. Many people become carers. Health does not discriminate. For this reason, anyone, regardless of their background, the amount of time they can give or how they want to engage, can be a member of the Patient and Carer Network. We want people to join who are passionate about improving healthcare for all.

If you would like to find out more, please email pcn@rcp.ac.uk

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the RCP need to listen to patients and carers?

There’s a lot of evidence that meaningful patient engagement not only improves patient experience and satisfaction, but can also make services more effective. 

The PCN provides people with an important platform to share their experiences of being a patient or carer. The RCP uses these experiences to help identify areas for improvement and to understand what patients and carers need from health services. This is used to develop guidance and recommendations for the RCP’s member doctors, healthcare teams, hospitals and government.

The RCP is increasing the number and diversity of patients and carers it works with. By expanding the PCN, the RCP hopes to ensure that its work meets needs across different groups and communities. 

How are PCN members chosen?

Any person across England and Wales with or without a long-term medical condition can apply to join the PCN. There are no formal skills or qualifications required to join the PCN. All our members share an interest in improving health and healthcare, and an awareness of current health and social care issues. The RCP understands that the time people have to give to volunteering varies and works flexibly to support members according to the time that they can give. 

Does the RCP cover volunteer expenses?  

All patients, carers and members of the public who undertake voluntary work for the RCP are reimbursed for reasonable expenses, including travel and any necessary overnight accommodation. We operate a disability-friendly policy, doing our best to ensure reasonable adjustments where required.

What does the RCP offer its volunteers?

The RCP aims to offer all volunteers a valuable experience that ensures the voices of a diverse group of patients and carers are heard and included in the work that it does. The RCP offers flexibility to support volunteers to participate at a time and in a way that suits members’ availability, interests, skills, experience and lifestyle.