Headlines: August 22nd, 2005

The Department of Health has launched a campaign to get a wide section of views on improving community health and care services. The findings will be fed into a White Paper to be published at the end of the year. Although White Papers always take on views of those affected and with the shift to evidence based policy are increasingly based on research, it is unusual, if not unique, for such a widespread programme to be undertaken in this way. This approach is designed to fulfil the Department’s commitment to listening to and engaging with the public, patients and staff about what they think of the NHS and social care, and what changes they want to see in the future.More than 100,000 people will be invited to put forward their ideas. A national event for 1000 people to be held in Birmingham on 29th October will be preceded by regional events for up to 100 people. These events will be held in Gateshead, Leicester and London in September and in Plymouth in October. People unable to attend an event will be able to express their views via an online questionnaire. The public will also have the opportunity to take part in local sessions to be run by NHS, local government and voluntary organisations.

The national and regional events will be run by Opinion Leader Research. The company specialises in understanding how influence and communications work, in anticipating the future and putting people at the heart of decision making. It has pioneered new techniques to engage the public in decision making including Citizens’ Juries, Citizens’ Forums, collaborative workshops and online consultation.