SCW communications and engagement specialists were appointed to design and deliver a full public consultation exercise on proposals to create a single vascular team and centre of excellence for east Kent and Medway. 2,800 people accessed the online consultation portal offering video and written summaries, an online survey and access to engagement events. SCW’s consultation report outlining local views was submitted by commissioners alongside the business case to help pave the way for service reconfiguration and improvement.
Every year around 1,200 treatments are undertaken by specialist vascular teams in two Kent and Medway vascular centres. This involves unblocking, bypassing or reconstructing arteries to restore blood flow and reduce the risk of stroke, sudden death or the need for amputation.
Currently, vascular surgery takes place in two specialist inpatient centres in Kent and one in London. Joint commissioners, NHS England Specialised Commissioning South East and Kent and Medway CCG, appointed SCW to carry out a full public consultation on their proposals to create a single vascular centre of excellence for east Kent and Medway.
A recent consultation around stroke services in the same region proved to be challenging and resource intensive, so commissioners were looking for an experienced, self-sufficient team which could develop and deliver consultation and engagement activity independently and efficiently.
The consultation needed to capture the views of patients, families, members of the public, health and community groups as well as the views of staff members who would also be affected by the change. The proposals were likely to directly affect less than 300 patients, who would receive inpatient treatment at a single hospital, rather than having a choice of two.
SCW’s communications and engagement specialists worked with commissioners to offer strategic advice and guidance and deliver a range of products, including
- A full suite of consultation documents, online content and survey questions – including advice on best questions for effective analysis
- Bespoke, branded interactive online consultation platform
- Four public consultation events, including
- online registration
- advice, guidance and editing event content and presentation
- event facilitation and pre-briefing speakers
- Staff engagement event for professionals from relevant NHS trusts
- Weekly updates on consultation progress and response rates to commissioners, NHS partner organisations and Healthwatch in order to inform ongoing communications campaign
SCW worked with NHSE, the CCG and partner provider organisations to develop clear, accessible materials and communications to encourage maximum engagement. This was supported by expert advice about consultation processes and approaches to minimise the risk of challenge by regional or national scrutiny bodies. SCW recommended and delivered multi-channel response mechanisms in order to reach the widest possible audience, particularly given the restrictions on face-to-face events due to the covid pandemic.
SCW’s expert team collated, reviewed and analysed all responses (via online survey, telephone consultations, printed survey and through patient, public and staff events) to compile and publish a detailed report of the consultation process and findings – including key themes.
The consultation enabled active patient and public involvement in the development of specialist vascular services by offering a range of different ways for people to share their views - online, on paper, by phone, through established community groups and meetings and through bespoke, online patient and public events.
- 2,800 people accessed the online consultation portal
- of these, 697 people actively engaged with the consultation site, either downloading or viewing information
- 410 people downloaded the consultation document255 people responded to the consultation through the survey:
- 174 responses were through the online platform
- 81 paper responses were returned by post
This response rate and subsequent consultation report were well received by customer and partner organisations, and the local health scrutiny committee, particularly given that the proposals are likely to directly affect fewer than 300 patients a year.
“SCW’s highly experienced, specialist team managed the whole consultation and engagement process extremely professionally from start to finish. What’s more, they rapidly became part of the team and had done their research so were able to fully immerse themselves in the programme.
“At the same time, their independence, as well as their professional expertise, when it came to facilitating, analysing and reporting on the consultation and engagement activity was hugely valuable and enabled us to conduct and demonstrate a thorough and independent process.”
Su Woollard, transformation delivery manager, NHSE South East Region