Consumers and Clinicians, working together


The Collaborative Pairs Program brings health service providers together with consumers to develop and strengthen their capacity to work together to transform the health system, and we have just completed a national trial.


“Achieving a more collaborative dynamic will require a change in the way that all of us work. The ability to adapt, communicate and shift between roles will be important for all leaders in developing the collaborative relationship that puts safety and quality at the heart of health care in our communities”

- Alison Trimble, The King's Fund

CHF is delighted to announce that applications are now open for the Inaugural Collaborative Pairs Australia National Program to be held in Sydney, commencing October 2019.

Collaborative Pairs is a Leadership Development program which brings together a consumer, patient or community leader to work together in pairs with a service provider, clinician or manager to develop new ways of working together.

It is a flagship program of the King’s Fund (UK) and the program’s objectives are to build skills in developing collaborative partnerships and to break down the cultural barriers that often exist between those providing the services and those receiving them. It is designed to re-shape consumer leadership and to position the valuable contributions and expertise of both consumers and health professionals to drive system reform.

The Collaborative Pairs program is based on evidence that when a culture of shared leadership and partnership between consumers and service providers exists then decisions are better, health and health outcomes improve and resources are allocated more efficiently.

The program is undertaken in pairs (a consumer and a health professional/service provider) over five workshops in 3 sessions with two coaching sessions in between workshops. Each pair identifies a joint healthcare challenge that they are passionate about and will work on for the duration of the program. The program is facilitated by a consumer and clinical pair who have been trained in the UK by the King’s Fund.

Hear Leanne Wells, CEO, CHF  talk about why Collaborative Pairs is such a unique program for Australia and why CHF is keen to see it implemented in the Australian context


Watch the video


Details of the Collaborative Pairs National program


Session 1: Friday 18 and Saturday 19 October 2019 9:30 AM -4:30 PM

Session 2: Friday 29 and Saturday 30 November 2019 9:30 AM -4:30 PM

Session 3: Friday 13 December 2019 9:30 AM -4:30 PM

Where: National Prescribing Service training room, Level 7, 418A Elizabeth St Surry Hills

Cost: $8,000 per pair (equivalent to $4,000 per person)

The costs of the program include a diary for each person for self-reflection, access to an electronic set of program materials, two coaching sessions per pair by the facilitators in between workshop sessions and morning, afternoon tea and lunch on all workshop days

Facilitators: Jane Cockburn (Consumer Lead) and Karen Patterson (Clinical Lead)

Both Jane and Karen have been trained in “Collaborative Pairs” by the King’s Fund and have delivered two highly successful programs in Western NSW. They will be receiving supervision from Mark Doughty (UK) the architect of the program for the duration of the program.

Who should attend: This program will be beneficial to consumers and health service providers who want to make a difference in their local health service systems, enhance their leadership skills, build effective partnerships and develop new and innovative ways of working. Ideally, they will be sponsored to attend by their local LHD, PHN or NGO.

Organisations interested in bringing consumers and health service providers together to improve local health service systems and outcomes for consumers, build a culture of collaborative practice and enhance partnerships between consumers, community and health services should consider sponsoring a pair to attend.

Feedback from a sponsoring organisation about the program:

Collaborative Pairs has been an exciting new undertaking for WNSW PHN and we are the first in Australia to complete the program. What is unique about it is the pairing which enables consumers, community organisations and health professionals to learn to work together on an equal footing and be respectful of each other's perspectives and expertise. All of this is critical if we are to improve the health system and it is great to see the results of months of hard work the pairs have put in" - WNSW PHN CEO Andrew Harvey

More information on Collaborative Pairs Australia


Collaborative Pairs Australia : An Overview

The Patients as partners publication is helpful in outlining the learnings from the first cohort of participants in the program in the UK. It also demonstrates the type of pairs and the work challenges undertaken.


An information session will be held in early September for those interested in applying. More details about this will be posted on the website. To register your interest please email:

Applications must be provided by a pair (ie a consumer and service provider) jointly using the online Application Form provided. One application per pair. Interested applicants should familiarise themselves with the Invitation to Apply before completing the Application Form.

Applications must be received by COB Monday 23 September 2019.

Once successful applicants have been notified, they will be required to register with full payment prior to commencing the program.



The Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF), in collaboration with the Kings Fund (UK), four Primary Health Networks in NSW and Victoria and the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has undertaken a national demonstration trial of the Collaborative Pairs: leading collaboratively with patients and communities” (Collaborative Pairs) Program in the Australian context. Seven programs have been delivered with over 40 pairs participating. Below is some of the feedback from those participating in the Australian programs.


“It’s given me a perspective of how it can actually be to sit in a room full of doctors and nurses and people who have, you know, all this knowledge. As a patient you do inherently put them on a bit of a pedestal" - A service provider

"Has taught me to value my life experiences" - Consumer

"Has given me confidence that what I have to offer is valuable" - Consumer

"I know that programs like this work. They change clinician behaviour, they change consumer behaviour and ultimately change the way services are provided" - Pair

Jenny Ryan, Director of Maternity Services at the Royal Women’s Hospital, says the experience of working with her consumer partner, has reinforced the need to be inclusive and consultative when delivering health services. “Language is really important,” Ms Ryan said. “Instead of the health care workers saying, ‘well, this is what you have to do, this is what we do here’, it’s about inviting them into conversation and saying, ‘well, this is what I would recommend. How do you feel about this?’ “

Hear from Jacinta and Nic who participated in NWMPHN Collaborative Pairs Program