Doctor 2A campaign has been launched to improve the way health professionals talk to their patients.

The campaign is based on research that shows patients often don’t take their medications or change their lifestyle after visiting a doctor or nurse, while only about 60% of patients feel they are sufficiently involved in decisions about their care.

A new set of ‘Better Conversation’ resources for clinicians and commissioners offers information, evidence and tips on how to introduce health coaching, so that patients are treated as partners in their care rather than passive recipients.

A pilot programme of health coaching was rolled out to nearly 800 clinicians across the East of England and is now ready for national adoption. The work is driven by Dr Penny Newman and backed by the NHS Innovation Accelerator initiative to achieve the aims of NHS England’s Five Year Forward View.

The purpose is to give clinicians the tools to help patients to feel more motivated, confident and in control of managing their health and care through better conversations. These health coaching skills can also be used by lay people.

The ‘Better Conversation’ resources have been described by NHS Medical Director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh as an essential part of the plan to transform the way health care services are provided, to make them sustainable.

Dr Newman said: “The conversation between any clinician and patient is paramount. I am passionate about us having conversations that enable people to thrive by feeling more motivated, confident and in control of managing their own health and care. 

“Only by putting patients more in the driving seat can we enable them to better manage their own health and adopt more healthy behaviours. Since 2010 I have been gathering the evidence and developing resources in health coaching to support colleagues to work more in partnership with patients.

“If we ask patients and really listen to what matters to them, and work together to create plans that motivate them, we will improve their health and wellbeing. Behaviour change science shows that just telling people what to do often doesn’t work – we have to become more empowering. People themselves want to be more in control, listened to and heard.

“A different or health coaching approach is essential to delivering care that fits in with the individual and what’s important to them, as well as achieving efficiencies. It is my ambition and that of all our partner organisations to transform health care through enabling better conversation through health coaching.”

Sir Bruce Keogh has written the foreword to a health coaching handbook being launched as part of the campaign. He said: “For the NHS to be sustainable, people need to become more active in managing their own health, wellbeing and care. They need to be supported to make good choices and more equal conversations, based on a strong partnership between clinician and patient, are vital for achieving this.

“Heath coaching supports the NHS values of care, listening and personal responsibility. By providing clinicians with new skills that help patients identify what’s most important to them, and tapping into their own internal motivation, evidence shows health coaching can also address health inequalities, improve health behaviours and reduce avoidable admissions.”