This has been an exciting year for the Our Dorset Public Engagement Group (PEG).  At almost every meeting, we have provided our wide spectrum of lived experience and diversity from across the county to the evolving integrated care system (ICS) and the new integrated care board’s (which will be known as NHS Dorset) approach to working with people and communities.

This has been described as a golden thread running throughout the ICS, to put the voices of people and communities at the centre of decision-making and governance, at every level.  This concept has always been central to the PEG’s philosophy and about four years ago we

developed a diagram which advocated putting local people at the centre of our discussions, which was endorsed by the Senior Leadership Team and aimed internally to help ensure that everything starts with the person.

With the development of the new strategic approach to working with people and communities for the new NHS Dorset, we have taken the opportunity to look at this again, reinforcing its focus on the person.

This resulted in ‘It starts with you‘, which does exactly that, and outlines the organisation’s commitment to ensuring that the voices of people and communities will be central to how health and care services are designed.

In amongst all this ICS work, we also had time to provide insight and feedback to both the CCG’s winter pressures campaign and to community engagement around the COVID-19 vaccination programme across Dorset.

We held view seeking sessions about the Think Big Project – the new outpatient assessment clinic at Dorset Health Village; the Our Dorset Innovation Hub; population health management and elective care; health inequalities and the new Dorset Digital engagement plan.

You said – we did‘ continues to be central to how we operate and we ask every group for whom we provide insight and views to feedback at a future meeting.  It’s important that this is not just ‘you said – we did’, but also ‘you said – we didn’t, or aren’t able to do’, and explaining the rationale behind that.  This leads to open conversations and our greater understanding of some of the challenges.

All of our meetings are still online and whilst we hope to have a few face to face in the coming months, many of us have found the virtual connections have been even more effective and rewarding. Our connectivity has increased within the CCG and ICS partners, as well as the wider NHS. Working online means that a quick conversation to inform a piece of work, sharing views on proposals, providing insight and challenge in working groups and so on, have made us and our contributions even more accessible.

We anticipate another exciting year ahead as NHS Dorset becomes a statutory body and the PEG continues to deliver insight, lived experience and constructive challenge about the importance of working with people and communities.

Ian Gall

Patient & Public Representative and Chair of the Our Dorset Public Engagement Group