ICS in action: how is Suffolk and North East Essex ICS involving the public?

This week at IH, we have been examining Suffolk and North East Essex ICS’s strategy for public and patient involvement. The strategy, published in 2022, provides insight into the three-year vision of the ICS with regards to how they engage – and plan to engage – with the communities they serve.

Plans for public involvement

The strategy notes that the ICS is “responsible for lots of different aspects of health and care meaning that participation, collaboration and understanding patient experience will be happening across a range of service areas.” By gaining insight and understanding of patient experience, it is hoped that the ICS will be supported in planning and improving care.

The strategy states that there will be a variety of clear opportunities for people to share their experiences, make their voices heard and have the potential to influence decisions – with special focus being placed on communities who are often excluded or whose voices are underserved.

The approach will aim to “strengthen and broaden engagement in all activity” across the ICB. Local people are to be offered the opportunity to become involved in quality planning, control and improvement; service development and design; and the commissioning cycle.

The ICS acknowledges that meaningful collaboration and involvement with the public relies on developing strong relationships with local communities and individuals, built on a foundation of trust and respect.

The strategy demonstrates a commitment to a set of guiding principles, designed to underpin involvement and collaboration activity, including respect; listening; equality; and transparency.

In addition, the strategy places emphasis on co-producing activities with communities in ways which best serve those communities and their diverse needs, “supporting a range of opportunities and enabling people to work with us in different ways.”

Delivering involvement activities

The strategy notes that 2022-2023 placed a focus on developing an organisational culture of involvement and collaboration, with the ICS putting in place robust training, development plans and increasing diversity of public engagement.

Moving on, year two of the strategy will look to develop sustainable organisational systems and processes; embedding place-based collaboration and a systems approach to patient experience in the ICB programmes.

Year three is to focus on evaluation of the culture, determining the success of the strategy, and identifying the next steps going forward.

The document adds that the ICS is to work closely with alliance boards, governing bodies and strategic partnerships “to embed the patient narrative so that it is seen as an essential part of the infrastructure.”

As part of our ICS in Action series, we will be looking at Suffolk and North East Essex ICS’s latest plans and strategies to see how they managed to implement the measures discussed in this article and any additional plans going forward.