Statutory responsibility

Public involvement in commissioning is about enabling people to voice their views, needs and wishes, and to contribute to plans, proposals and decisions about services.

Our use of the term ‘patients and the public’ includes everyone who uses services or may do so in the future, including carers and families. The term ‘involvement’ is used interchangeably with ‘engagement’, participation’, ‘consultation’ and ‘patient or public voice’ and there are many different ways to involve patients and the public, as shown below. Different approaches will be appropriate, depending on the nature of the commissioning activity and the needs of different groups of people.

Fig 1

Why is it so important?

The NHS Constitution and the Five Year Forward View, set out a clear message that the NHS should put patients and the public at the heart of everything it does. The NHS must be more responsive to the needs and wishes of the public, all of whom will use its services at some point in their lives. We need to ensure that public, patient and carer voices are at the centre of our healthcare services, from planning to delivery, to how involvement is reported and communicated.

You can see from the Commissioning Cycle (pictured above) that patients and the public should be at the very heart.

Participation helps us to understand people’s needs, and to prioritise those people who experience the poorest health outcomes – enabling us to improve access and reduce health inequalities. Participation provides opportunities to see things differently and to be innovative, leading to a better use of our limited resources.

What is the CCG's legal duty to involve the public?

NHS commissioning organisations have a legal duty under the National Health Service Act 2006 (as amended) to ‘make arrangements’ to involve the public in the commissioning of services for NHS patients (‘the public involvement duty’).

For CCGs this duty is outlined in Section 14Z2 of the Act and for NHS England the duty is outlined in Section 13Q. To fulfil the public involvement duty, the arrangements must provide for the public to be involved in:

  • the planning of services
  • the development and consideration of proposals for changes which, if implemented, would have an impact on services and
  • decisions which, when implemented, would have an impact on services.

As part of their governance arrangements, CCGs and NHS England are required to prepare annual reports, which must explain how the public involvement duty in the previous financial year has been fulfilled. You can view our annual reports, accounts and summary documents here.