What is Engagement?

Involving local patients, members of the public, carers and patient representative groups is important to the NHS Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board (ICB), so that we can be assured of commissioning the best possible services that meet the needs of local patients and that represent the best possible value for money.

Engagement describes the continuing and on-going process of developing relationships and partnerships so that the voice of local people and partners is heard and that our plans are shared at the earliest possible stages. Examples of this type of engagement would include our patient participation groups and membership schemes where we ask members to get involved in various pieces of work.

It also describes activity that happens early on in an involvement process, including holding extensive discussions with a wide range of people to develop a robust case for change.

Statutory Guidance: Working in partnership with people and communities

This guidance replaces all previous guidance on consulting and involving and also sets out some of the main ways to work with people and communities. It is intended for Integrated Care Boards (ICBs), NHS trusts and foundation trusts, and is adopted as policy by NHS England.

It is relevant to other health and care organisations, including local government, to support collaborative working to involve people and communities, in ways that are meaningful, trusted and lead to improvement.

The Health and Care Act 2022 created a very different health and care landscape with a particular emphasis on integration and collaboration.  It continued the S.14Z45 – Duty of public involvement and consultation, as well as the new statutory guidance around how NHS organisations should work effectively with people and communities. This is laid out in our Constitution.

You can read our briefing on the new Working with people and communities guidance here.

This diagram demonstrates our spectrum of engagement and shows how there are many ways people and communities can be involved in our work.

What is a ‘formal consultation’?

‘Formal consultation’ describes the statutory requirement imposed on NHS bodies to consult with overview and scrutiny committees (OSCs), patients, the public and stakeholders when considering a proposal for a substantial development of the health service, or for a substantial variation in the provision of a service.

Formal consultation is carried out if a change is ‘significant’. This is determined where the proposal or plan is likely to have a substantial impact on one or more of the following:

  • Access (e.g., reduction or increase in service due to change of location or opening times)
  • Wider community (e.g., economic impact, transport, regeneration)
  • Patients or users (either current or future)
  • Service delivery (e.g., methods of delivery or relocation of services)

The outcome of a formal consultation must be reported to the ICB, together with the feedback received, and must show how this has been taken into account in any recommendations and decision making.