Consultations can be formal or informal processess.  Depending on the level of service change, redesign or reconfiguration - a formal consultation may need to take place.  Once a decision has been made about the type of consultation process to follow, it is important to remember that it is designed to involve people in decision making about services. It involves engaging users, stakeholders and the public on issues where changes in services may be required, in an open and transparent way.

offers advice and guidance around how to carry out consultations. 



WHY should I undertake consultations?

  • To give service users and other stakeholders an early opportunity to influence the decision, and to inform them of constraints on the options
  • To increase the resource for generating new ideas and possible solutions
  • To test the public acceptability of options


HOW should I consult?

The consultation should always be clear, accessible and transparent, open, inclusive, responsive, sustainable, proactive and focused on improvement.

There are different methods of involvement such as focus groups, storytelling, shadowing, blogs, interviews, leaflets and formal consultation. These methods , the consultation process, results, feedback or any decision not to consult, must be documented.


WHEN should I undertake consultations?

Consultations should involve patients in the planning of the services they use. If the proposals would have an impact on how the services are delivered to users, or the range of health services available to those users, they should also be involved in:

  • the development and consideration of proposals for changes in the way those services are provided
  • decisions to be made by that service affecting the operation of those services.


WHO should I consult?

The involvement is only effective if the service correctly identifies the people who should be consulted. Users of those services, whether directly or through representatives, as well as the wider public should be consulted.

The legal duty to consult falls on the commissioner of health services and on to those providing services. In some instances it is also worth engaging with the local authority Overview and Scrutiny Committee or similar.


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