ChallengeFrom late 2019 to autumn 2020 NECS worked with NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups in the East Midlands on a major public consultation on proposals to create a £70m specialist rehabilitation centre on the Stanford Hall Rehabilitation Estate, near Loughborough.
The creation of a new centre aims to transform the quality and capacity of care for people recovering from major trauma, musculoskeletal conditions, amputation or neuro-rehabilitation issues.
The NECS communications and engagement team worked in partnership with Nottingham and Nottinghamshire CCG, other NHS stakeholders and the Defence Rehabilitation Centre on planning and delivering both a programme of pre engagement in 2019, and a full public consultation in 2020, with major impacts on the profile of rehabilitation services in the region (and nationally).
The first step was to write and produce an easy to understand consultation document and this came with a recognisable NHS brand and a ‘look’ for the consultation that would follow through on all products and aid public awareness.
A consultation summary was produced which was supported by frequently asked questions. For accessibility the team created an easy-read version of the summary document, and people could also call a helpline or email an engagement inbox for further help.
To raise awareness a marketing plan was produced that included media relations, social media, digital and newspaper advertising, digital poster and the distribution of a digital toolkit containing images, marketing assets and suggested social media posts.
A short animation designed to create interest was shared on social media. The team reached out to both local and national NHS organisations, local authorities and other stakeholders to encourage them to endorse the consultation and share the call to action. Professional representative organisations were also contacted to request consideration of the consultation, as were regional MPs.
Progress was monitored on a daily basis with an update report produced and regular project planning meetings held with the CCG. The team monitored an email inbox and responded to telephone calls and social media posts.
Pivotal to the consultation was the opportunity for the public to have their say in person and question commissioning and clinical experts on live events. With Covid-19 restrictions in place the team staged three virtual public meetings and moderated two focus group sessions. More than 60 people attended events.
Delivering a public consultation during the first wave of COVID-19 was a daunting challenge. This was also a high profile project with national attention. NECS' expertise in designing and delivering public consultations was invaluable in making the case that we could deliver a best practice consultation using virtual methods. NECS were able to adapt their existing plan, developed before face-to-face contact became impossible, to a virtual, non-contact context. We are absolutely confident that we delivered on all the consultation’s objectives. A longer term gain for us locally has also been persuading local stakeholders that we can undertake engagement and consultation using virtual methods without compromising the quality of the exercise.
Lewis Etoria, Head of Insights and Engagement, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire CCG and ICS
Some 770 people completed surveys during the eight-week period and the team received institutional responses from eight organisations, including the Royal College of Physicians and the British Society of Rehabilitative Medicine.
The responses and feedback will be gathered for consideration by the CCG’s governing board.
The full case study can be viewed here: Specialist Rehabilitation Centre in the East Midlands Case Study