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Pip Hardy and Tony Sumner: co-founders of the Patient Voices Programme

Pip Hardy and Tony Sumner are co-founders of the Patient Voices Programme, established in 2003 in response to the urgent need for better communication and understanding of all healthcare stakeholders’ experiences of care. Bringing the ancient tradition of storytelling to life via new technologies, the programme offers new possibilities for involving and engaging patients, carers and service users, clinicians, managers and leaders as a means of bringing about transformational change. Empowering them to share their stories in their own words provides the basis for organizational development, quality improvement and leadership programmes founded on the experiences of those involved in the system to complement the results of surveys and research formulated by the system.

Patient Voices operates as a social enterprise dedicated to the creation and distribution of these important stories of health and social care. Now home to nearly 1,000 stories of health and illness, tragic losses and miraculous recoveries, the Programme is widely respected as being the only resource of its kind in the world, receiving over two million total hits per annum on the website and with stories being used by, among others, the UK Chief Medical and Nursing Officers, and as far away as Australia and Hong Kong. Pip and Tony are considered to be the leading practitioners in digital storytelling in healthcare in the world. The methodology developed for creating Patient Voices Reflective digital stories has been adapted for use as a valid method of gathering qualitative data and has been used by the National Audit Office, among others while the three-stage ethical consent and release process they have developed is acknowledge to be an exemplar of good practice in digital storytelling and other forms of participatory research.

The Patient Voices Programme has won a number of awards, including the 2010 British Medical Journal  award for Excellence in Healthcare Education. It sprang from, and sits within, the work of Pilgrim Projects Limited, an education consultancy specialising in the development of high quality open, distance and e-learning programmes across a range of sectors.

Meet the team


Dr Jo Tait, facilitator

Dr Jenny Gordon, facilitator

Our Advisory Board


After many years, we are currently reviewing the structure, governance and goals of the Patient Voices Programme, with the aim of ensuring its long-term sustainability and relevance. We have been fortunate to work with many talented people with a broad skill set and knowledge base. As a first step on the next stage of our journey we have decided to appoint an Advisory Board of experts in related fields to assist in strategic and developmental decisions.

Professor Liz Anderson

Professor Liz Anderson

Professor Elizabeth Anderson is responsible for interprofessional education (IPE) and patient safety and leads the Patient and Carer Group University of Leicester Medical School. After completing a graduate nursing course at St Bartholomew’s Hospital London, she moved to Leicester where she worked as a Midwife and Health Visitor. Her early research on Sudden Infant Death syndrome led into exploration of service design for marginalized groups such as travellers and disadvantaged populations. Elizabeth moved into health care research and then to scholarship in Medical Education where she led innovative practice-based educational interventions. She works to ensure learning is underpinned with theoretical insights. She served on the Board for the Disability Partnership, ‘The Prince of Wales Advisory Group on Disability’ while supporting education on disability awareness. Elizabeth is widely published in the area of Interprofessional Education (IPE) and has served on the Board for the UK Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education (CAIPE). In 2016, she was awarded a CAIPE Fellowship for her contributions to interprofessional learning. Elizabeth was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship by the Higher Education Academy for outstanding contributions to education in 2007 and continues to champion patient involvement and partnerships in education. She began working with Patient Voices in 2006, continues to support digital storytelling for student reflection and uses patient stories in her teaching.

Shahid Sardar

Shahid Sardar

Shahid Sardar began his career at Mind in 1998, the National Mental Health Charity and ever since has been working to enable a more balanced relationship between providers and consumers of healthcare.

To get more hands on, in 2005 he moved from mental health to a local public health role in East London’s NHS during the seven years leading up to the Olympics in Newham and then in 2012 moved to an acute role. He now leads on patient experience, coproduction and quality improvement at The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow where he helped establish the Patient Panel, an autonomous group of local people supporting and challenging the Trust to improve.

Shahid has been a storyteller and commissioner over several years and believes passionately in the power of digital storytelling to create a pivot for change in the lives of those who participate and as an educational tool for students. He is active on LinkedIn and you can find out more about him at https://www.linkedin.com/in/shahid-sardar-91583557/

Elizabeth Howkins

Elizabeth Howkins

I am an educational consultant working in the field of Interprofessional education and collaborative practice. I have run a wide range of workshops and seminars for organisations in the UK, Europe, Japan and Australia.  The focus has been on facilitating interprofessional learning in practice, exploring collaborative leadership, understanding interprofessional education, and developing an interprofessional curriculum for universities. I have used digital stories in my teaching to encourage reflection, stimulate discussion and ensure the focus in on the patient/carer.  I have attended two of the Patient Voices workshops and have made two digital stories. I am the immediate past Chair of the Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional education (CAIPE), a charity committed to collaborative working across health and social care and related services.

Cat Chatfield

Cat Chatfield

Cat is the Quality Improvement Editor for the BMJ, working in partnership with the Health Foundation to publish articles supporting clinicians to improve healthcare.  She’s also a locum GP in Kent with a longstanding interest in medical education.  Cat has previously been a Darzi leadership fellow and worked at London Deanery developing a variety of projects for doctors in training. She created resources to teach QI as Clinical Lead for BMJ Quality and was previously the Editor of BMJ Quality Improvement Reports.

Richard Gray

Richard Gray

I was appointed to the post of CAIPE Chair in 2013 and was previously President of the General Practice with Primary Health Care Section of the Royal Society of Medicine.  Before retirement I was a  general practitioner in Brighton.  I am an Honorary Faculty Fellow, University of Brighton and previously was an Associate Dean for Postgraduate General Practice Medical Education, and Principal Lecturer in Primary Care and interprofessional disciplinary lead at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School. I have worked with Pip over the last four years and from her experience and help have learned to value the importance of using stories in interprofessional education activities.

Valerie James

Valerie James

I first met Pip and Tony in 2007 at the King’s Fund where I was a senior fellow in leadership development. I’m now an independent consultant focusing on leadership development, integrated systemic and transformational change and mediation,  with a couple of visiting university posts.  I’m a clinician by background: I’ve trained as a nurse and a psychotherapist, and I’m also an academic, a researcher and an educationalist. I’m passionate about improvement in care, the development of emotional intelligence and promoting multiple voices. My role here is to support Patient Voices in strengthening their strategic impact and perhaps in helping co-design educational experiences using digital stories with staff. 

Paul Deemer

Paul Deemer

I am a human resources professional and aspiring poet who believes passionately in the power of good staff engagement to influence better patient outcomes. Throughout my 30+ year career, I have worked in local government, the voluntary sector and the health service – with particular experience in the fields of recruitment, employee relations, employment law and diversity. My work ethos revolves around the principle that a workplace that encourages diverse thinking and representation is a workplace that will thrive and flourish.

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