"I wanted to see more recognition of the strengths and positives of lived experience.”
Deb Egleton is Sussex Partnership’s Service User Leader – a new role introduced in 2017 designed to ensure service users have the opportunity to voice their views of services and give input for future developments.
Having previously worked in publishing for 15 years, we asked Deb what made her want to join the NHS:
“I applied for this role because I wanted to use my lived experience of mental health difficulties, together with my business experience, to try and influence real change that will benefit other service users.
“I have had mental health difficulties for all of my adult life and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2011. When I saw a role that was for a Service User Leader, I thought wow – what an amazing opportunity!
“I know how it feels to feel isolated; to lose the control or determination that most people have over their lives. I've also experienced issues accessing services and feeling discriminated in the workplace – so I wanted to see more recognition of the strengths and positives of lived experience.”
We spoke to Deb about whether she has experienced any challenges in this new role: “There have been times where I have found it difficult to know where I sit – am I here as a member of staff, as a patient, an ex-patient – but I do believe that having roles like this help to bridge that gap, because it’s only through really listening to patient experience that we can make changes for the better.”
We asked Deb why she thinks the NHS is so brilliant: “I think we are incredibly lucky in this country to have the NHS. We are lucky to have a service which looks after us all, but also a service that we can be a part of. I always encourage people to get involved – the NHS is an organisation that is changing and evolving and we can be a part of that change.”