Delivering engagement at scale can be complex and challenging. Our work with East London Health and Care Partnership (ELCHP) has proved NEL a national exemplar in this arena in our development and continued management of a citizens’ panel.

We identified an opportunity to support ELCHP increase public involvement using national NHS England funding for developing public and patient engagement. After submission of a successful funding bid, we were commissioned by ELHCP to set up and manage an online citizens’ panel.

ELHCP tasked us to build and manage the panel: it needed to be representative of the north east London community and provide a genuine opportunity for wider members of the public to be involved in shaping local plans and services.

Our strategy was to manage all elements of the project, from building a robust, GDPR compliant online platform to managing the involvement of local people through short, clear and easy to understand surveys, which we source, write and analyse. We established a clear engagement protocol and schedule of involvement, delivered reports and updates for stakeholders and partners, whilst also delivering an intensive recruitment strategy.

Within four months of launching the panel we had signed up 1,200 panel members, involving them in a range of STP topics. Their feedback and insight has contributed to services, including the planning and communications of urgent care services and health prevention.

Over a 12 month period, we built from scratch a successful representative panel of local people. We manage the panel ongoingly and deliver regular engagement to gain insight, views, and ideas on health and social care topics and services.

We continue to embed the panel as an engagement requirement in the workstreams and projects across the STP, ensuring sustained and ongoing involvement of local people in shaping plans.

The success of the panel has allowed us to secure an additional £20,000 for ELHCP to continue investment in growing the panel and expanding involvement methods. It has also made the project a national case study.

“The support on developing the Citizen Panel from idea to reality was (and still is) exceptional. From identifying the funding opportunity, developing and taking forward the original idea and mobilising the panel, the support has been prompt, flexible and responsive. We now have a panel of over 1,000 members (on the way to 5,000) representing all boroughs in our STP in little under a year, that will prove invaluable in changing the way that we are able to engage with local people.”

Alan Steward, System OD and Transition Senior Responsible Officer, East London Health and Care Partnership