Engaging with the public: The essential guide for clinical commissioning groups

top tips squareNHS Clinical Commissioners (NHSCC) today publishes a guide on how clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) can engage the public in challenging decisions about healthcare transformation.

Developed by the NHSCC Lay Member Network, A CCG Guide: Engaging the public in difficult decisions about health service change draws on case studies of three different reconfiguration programmes:

The guide offers some top tips on how to get your engagement right:

1: Timing is everything

2: Call the experts

3: Get your messaging right

4: Go wide

5: Listen, be respectful, be honest…and let go.

Chair of the Lay Member Network, Susanne Hasselmann says: “The need for transformational change in healthcare services is a high priority – not least as part of delivering the NHS England’s Five Year Forward View, which sets out a series of new care models.

“The need to engage the public in these changes is vital, but it is not always an easy proposition. Redesigns of health services can illicit strong feelings in local communities. CCGs are still learning what works and what doesn’t, and our knowledge about good public engagement is growing. What this guide does is share the expertise and experience of those who have successfully engaged their local communities in change.

“Public engagement is not a process which can be rushed, and CCGs need to work with other local partners, like Healthwatch, to make sure they consult a wide range of people in a wide range of settings. During Healthier Together, for instance, they spread information on the programme through hiring a market stall and partnering with a local radio station at community events.”

Susan Robinson, Head of Development at Healthwatch England, said “It’s encouraging to see this guide from the NHSCC on engaging the public in discussions about health service change.

“Involving the public in changes to health services from the start of the process is key to getting the best results; the experiences and needs of patients must be listened to and considered when making such important and challenging decisions. Local Healthwatch are a key local partner for all CCGs that want to make this happen, so we would encourage all CCGs to work in partnership with their local Healthwatch when engaging the public on key decisions about health service change.”

Susanne Hasselmann concludes: “An increasing number of commissioners will be faced with difficult decisions about local services, and with public concern about changes the advice in this guide can therefore only become more important as time goes on. We hope this guide helps our members and others to get those conversations right with the public.”

27 May 2015