What is engagement?
Engagement is the formal term used within the NHS to describe the on-going ‘two-way conversation’ in which all stakeholders are invited to help shape the future of their NHS. It is vital to engage our public, their representatives, our partners and staff in how services are designed and improved to ensure a vibrant and effective healthcare service is delivered to meet the needs of a changing population. The NHS is having to make some tough decisions about how care is provided so a period of engagement allows everyone to provide thoughts and feedback for full consideration before public consultation. Engagement takes place through a variety of activities including community events, surveys, telephone calls and emails.
What is consultation?
Public consultation is a legal requirement and refers to the formal process of gathering our public, their representatives, our partners and staff’s views to contribute to informing upon significant service change. It usually lasts at least 12 weeks, and ordinarily follows a period of engagement. The views gathered during the exercise must be analysed and any decisions taken must take these views into account, as well as many other factors such as clinical opinion. A final report is widely publicised explaining these decisions, before the outcome is implemented.
What is purdah?
The term ‘purdah’ is used across central and local government to describe the period of time immediately before elections or a referendum when specific restrictions on the activity of civil servants and local government officials, where appropriate, are in place. The term pre-election period is also used synonymously with purdah. Purdah prevents announcements from and activities by public bodies, including the NHS, which could influence or be seen to influence the election. This means long awaited announcements cannot be published during this period. In Lincolnshire, due to the 2019 local government elections, purdah will commence upon the local publication of the notice of election which must take place by 26 March 2019 at the latest.