Effective consultation is a key part of decision-making. People’s views should shape the agenda for better public services. But are you reaching the right people and really hearing what they say?
Whether you decide to use formal or informal methods, small focus groups or large-scale surveys it is important that people can have confidence in your inclusive approach. Do your methods match your audiences? Are the people who respond those most affected or those with the loudest voices? Are you really listening or just going through the motions? Do you feedback the results to those you consulted and adequately explain your decisions? If you aren’t sure, then Verve can help you get the answers you need.
East London and the City Mental Health Trust
The Trust was one of the first mental health trusts to seek Foundation status and Verve was chosen to advise and assist it to develop its consultation strategy and support its programme of community engagement. The diverse nature of East London’s local population meant ensuring the involvement of faith, BME and community organisations throughout the consultation. The Trust received a high level of response from all groups compared with its peers.
John Wilkins, the Foundation Trust Project Director, said,
“Verve was able to use its expertise in stakeholder and community engagement to generate real interest and excitement among the Trust’s partners, resulting in a positive local response to their plans.”
A Picture of Health
A picture of health proposed major changes to how hospital services were delivered across four London boroughs, where controversial decisions had to be made about crucial services. As well as offering strategic advice and the tools to communicate with the public and politicians so that proposals were understood, we undertook an extensive community engagement and consultation programme.
This involved 309 meetings with stakeholder groups (111 of these with organisations working with under-represented groups); 4 major public events (with around 700 attending); and consultation documents distributed to more than 500,000 households, 200,000 businesses and NHS and community organisations. This resulted in over 8,000 questionnaires being returned and 1,306 calls, emails and letters being received.
The programme received the national NHS award for Best Communication Leadership in 2009.
Oliver Lake, Director of Corporate Affairs for the NHS SE London Sector, said
“Verve responded flexibly to the different demands of different stages in the reconfiguration process, dealing with public consultation through decision, challenge, Secretary of State review, implementation planning with acute clinicians and the Clinical Cabinet GP process.”