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What is the difference between engagement and formal consultation?

You may hear terms like engagement, patient involvement, participation, consultation and public voice – these are phrases used to describe different ways of involving the public and are not mutually exclusive.  This document mainly uses the terms engagement and formal consultation

What is engagement?

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.   It also describes activity that happens throughout an involvement process, including desktop analysis to holding extensive discussions with a wide range of people using different tools in order to achieve maximum influence.

It is important that we take an appropriate and proportionate approach.  This includes not being seen to be spending public money unnecessarily.  Different levels of involvement will be appropriate in different circumstances and this is illustrated through the “Ladder of Engagement and Participation”.  Different levels include approaches such as desktop analysis of intelligence received locally or nationally, one to one discussions, focus groups, large gatherings, social media, surveys, public attendance in CCG meetings.

Find out more about our engagement process across Greater Nottingham here.

Read more about how we have involved local people in our work in our annual engagement report.


What is a formal consultation?

A formal public consultation is not needed for every service change. 

Formal consultation describes the statutory requirement imposed on NHS bodies to consult with patients, the public, stakeholders and overview and scrutiny committees (OSCs), 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 (eg. reduction or increase in service due to change of location or opening times)
  • Patients or users (either current or future)
  • Service delivery (eg. methods of delivery or relocation of services)

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

Current Consultations and Engagement 

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Closed Consultations and Engagement

Equality Impact Assessments 

Rushcliffe Clinical Commissioning Group is committed to ensuring that commissioning decisions, business cases and any other business plans are evaluated for their impact on equality through completion of Equality Impact Assessments.

An impact assessment is a continuous process to ensure that possible or actual business plans are assessed and the potential consequences on equality are considered and any necessary mitigating actions are outlined in a uniformed way.

Click here to view completed Equality Impact Assessments 

Click here for more information on how NHS Rushcliffe CCG is committed to promoting equality, valuing diversity and combating unfair treatment, improving patient experiences by achieving excellence.