What really happened at the NHS Citizen Workshop – held in London on 12th September 2016.

The NHS England EVENTS PAGE said:
“This workshop will explore the next steps for the NHS Citizen programme, ensuring that the programme is co-produced with citizens and ensuring learning from past events and reports.”

The reality was that:

  • There was no full & open discussion on the future of NHS Citizen at any point
  • We were expected to listen to invited ‘experts’ with only our questions invited
  • We were expected to listen to staff commenting on all our own contributions – why?
  • We were not allowed to openly discuss anyone else’s concerns, comments or ideas
  • All our comments were effectively dismissed by staff who didn’t enable discussion

How well did the NHS Citizen workshop manage – “ensuring the programme is co-produced with citizens”?  

Not well at all – it was completely ‘staff-led’, by NHS England’s Patient & Public Participation Team, (PPPT) with no co-production (which is joint & equal decision-making following an open discussion and with any conclusions made by both the organisation and the ‘citizens’ together).

This is how it was:

  • A brief slide show described the staff team’s 2 digital ‘developments’ for NHS Citizen
  • We had no handouts of the slides shown, asked for some and they came hours later
  • The handouts left out a flow chart showing feedback flow and NHS Citizen contacts
  • We were not asked if we agreed with the 2 digital developments for NHS Citizen
  • We were not asked if we thought these digital developments were a good idea or not
  • We were not shown the plans for NHS Citizen discussed to the Board – 2 weeks later
  • We were not asked to comment on these plans before they went on the NHSE website
  • We have never been asked about what are actually the PPPT’s own NHS Citizen plans

See for yourself – these links cover the five hour workshop:

NHS Citizen workshop – morning session

NHS Citizen workshop – afternoon session

NHS Citizen – feedback session

Who attended the workshop?

About 60 people attended with about 20 people who were ‘facilitating’ the day as NHS England staff or external associates supporting the technology of the webcast. There were at least 1 ‘facilitator’ for every 3 attendees.  The 60+ people who attended had applied to attend via the NHS Events pages.  There was no ‘invitee only’ restriction, which is often the case for events involving clinicians.

In June 2016, members of National NHS Public Voice had asked to meet with the PPPT after the NHS Citizen ‘Gather’ blog site had been closed overnight at the end of May with no warning or explanation.  The PPPT said a workshop in September would be arranged just for people who had been involved in NHS Citizen during the three years it had existed to discuss, with the PPPT, how NHS Citizen could be improved.

However those actually attending the NHS Citizen Workshop in September, far from the ‘citizens’ only, included commissioners, voluntary sector providers, and training consultants.  Those attending as ordinary members of the public who had been involved in NHS Citizen only numbered about 30 people.

People from National NHS Public Voice were there, and also watched the workshop webcast.

We were particularly disappointed as, in the spirit of the Workshop’s purpose, we had spoken with over 250 people at NHS events during the week before the Workshop.

We asked all these people how they would like a new NHS Citizen programme to work, and shared their views with all those at the workshop in a contribution from the floor – only to have all these people’s voices ignored.

These people had told us they wanted a collective democratic voice that was independent from service commissioners or providers, that was also inclusive and respectful. But they said the most important thing to them was that any ‘patient representative’ should be accountable to, and elected by, the rest of us.  They felt it was unacceptable that NHS England selected the patient representatives and that NHS England provided no system to enable them to actually represent the views, experience and knowledge of the wider public, or to give feedback on what was said or done on everyone’s behalf.

People had also told us that NHS England is not engaging with mental health service users and that they had no contact with the STP Footprints – which was very worrying.

The conclusions from the workshop:

There was little time left and no real discussion about what should happen next.  We were basically told that:

  • the PPPT staff would write a report for the NHS England Board on 29/10/16
  • a steering group would be set up to take the development of NHS Citizen forward
  • and that this steering group would include members of the public
  • and we would receive a copy of the staff ‘write up’ from the workshop

However there has been no ‘write up’ sent as yet, nor a copy of the report they took to the NHS England Board.  We have had one email thanking us for coming, giving web-links to the web-cast, an evaluation form and another promise of more information. That’s all.

National NHS Public Voice feels that this workshop was not facilitated in a professional and inclusive way nor did it demonstrate co-production.

We also feel that the NHS England Patient and Public Participation Team did not demonstrate that they have knowledge, experience, or even an understanding of best practice in facilitating an inclusive public involvement event. Nor do we feel that they showed any understanding of how co-production is actually supposed to work.

We were told repeatedly  ‘nothing is a done deal’  but the Board paper proved that the opposite is true.

Look out for our next post – explaining our concerns about the plans.

2 thoughts on “What really happened at the NHS Citizen Workshop – held in London on 12th September 2016.”

  1. I was going to attend this LONG awaited consultation on the future of NHSE’s Citizen-Gather. I was hesitant since the autocratic way Ms Singh had shut down its previous iteration – overnight and with Zero consultation – was worrying.
    As it happens I was not able to make the long public transport journey to London (Why London, when NHSE HQ in Leeds has wonderful facilities and is more central to the NHSE patch than London?)
    I watched the proceedings via the rather good Webcast and was MOST impressed by Ms Singh’s initial statement that there were ‘No Done Deals’,
    However, as the sessions rolled on, that statement became less and less believable.
    What WAS being / had been planned was not knowable, other than that the minority P&P present were NOT going to have much say in it, whatever it was.
    That became increasingly clear when the time came for report-backs and general contributions, arrived.
    EVERY contribution was treated by the controlling cabal as a Question to which they claimed the right of reply – at length.
    Some ‘consultation’!
    The close came with yet more assurances about No Done Deals and promises of a working group to assemble a report for the NHSE Board.
    That certainly wasn’t a Done Deal, as described above. P&P had been sold a dummy, and a report was presented to the NHSE Board without it even being seen by those P&P present at the ‘Faux Consultation’, never mind discussed.
    As the papers for the Board were only available hours before the Board meeting, N-NHS-PV members sent out urgent, well argued, papers to Lord Victor Adebowale CBE: (Non-Executive Director NHSE) asking him to pause the process of approval until P&P had been consulted.
    This champion of the people, Chair of the committee which will oversee this new project, effectively refused. And the proposals were accepted – and would start in ~ 14 days.
    Ms Cummings and Ms Singh can’t even get that right – and the whole thing is now in limbo, again.
    That’s getting on for almost a YEAR without an online ‘voice’ for the people who OWN Our=NHS,
    Yes, Us the P&P
    This is yet another reason we must have an N-NHS-PV.
    NOT £150/day self-appointed, self-titled, Patient Leaders who represent no-one but themselves, and act as convenient Yes-ers for NHSE
    NOR the Government subsidised VCS members who crowd out advizory committees to the exclusion of democratically elected, and accountable members of P&P.


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