NHS Clinical Commissioners (NHSCC) has published 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:
- Better Beginnings, which looked at maternity and paediatric services in East Sussex
- Healthier Together, a programme around health and social care services in Greater Manchester
- Future of Acute Hospital Services in Worcestershire.
The Better Beginnings case study highlights the importance of having no preconceptions about what the solutions might be at the start of their engagement work.
Jessica Britton, associate director of strategy and governance for Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford CCG and Hastings and Rother CCG emphasises ‘We were simply saying: here’s the issue, how do you find services at the moment, what is your experience of them, what are the things we might need to think about?”
Healthier Together, the case study from Manchester, shows how by being proactive and creative about how and where you engage people helps to ensure the views collected are from a genuinely diverse and representative group.
The guide offers some top tips on how to get engagement right, and the guide discusses these in more detail:
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.
Susan Robinson, Head of Development at Healthwatch England, said
“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.”
You can read the guide here.