​How We Engage

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We involve the public and patients in a variety of ways and use several different methods to capture views, reach seldom heard communities, ensure views are influencing decision making and to feed back to those who have been involved.   

We aim to actively work with patients, carers and the public to embed the values of the NHS Constitution into everything that we do. 

1. Vision and commitment to involvement

Merton CCGs corporate objectives demonstrate our commitment to:

  • Improving Outcomes and Reducing Inequalities: Ensuring access to high quality and sustainable care
  • Leading with ambition for our communities, driving transformation through innovation:
  • Delivering better care and a better patient experience.   
  • Working Together: Continually improve delivery by listening to and collaborating with our patients, members, partners, communities and other stakeholders.

This is further supported by the CCGs constitution by our Chair Andrew Murray who states that "to achieve our vision of better care and a healthier future for Merton, we will involve and engage our patients in designing services, support them to co-produce systems of care and empower them to look after their own health."

2. Principles for involvement

NHS England have developed 10 principles for participation, which we follow and have built on:

  1. Use a number of different methods to reach people – rather than expecting them to come to us
  2. Be proactive in seeking the views of people who experience health inequalities and poor health outcomes
  3. Provide clear and easy to understand information in a diverse range of formats
  4. Make sure patient and public involvement is properly resourced
  5. Be open, honest and transparent about what can be influenced and maximise those opportunities
  6. Work in partnership with other organisations to share learning to avoid duplication
  7. Review experience of involvement
  8. Recognise people's contributions and feedback 
  9. Involve people as early as possible
  10. Be clear how feedback has or will influence decision making

3. How do we engage?

The approach we use depends on what we are engaging on and who we need to engage with, but often include events, surveys, focus groups, social media, direct contact and support through our partner networks. We consider the best approaches to take, in conversation with those communities we hope to reach.

We use the Merton Story, our Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, and other local intelligence to identify which communities experience the poorest health outcomes and health inequalities. We are working to make sure Equality Impact Assessments are always completed prior to the start of any project or engagement process.  This helps us to identify those who would be most impacted by our plans so that we can reach out to them when seeking opinions.  It also enables us to consider inequalities and health inequalities when planning and implementing commissioning decisions so that services are accessible and delivered in a way that respects the needs of each individual and does not exclude anyone. 

We have successfully worked with communities in deprived areas of Mitcham to seek feedback through focus groups and holding a stall at the Mitcham Carnival – speaking to young families and carers.

4. How we use digital tools to support engagement?

Using social media to engage with local people is an important part of our communications and engagement approach.  It provides us with additional techniques to listen and access people and communities who may have less time to get involved in more traditional ways, due to family or work pressures.  The social media ethos is about engaging, participation and relationship building.  This makes it a strong vehicle for informing patients and getting their feedback.   

We use Twitter regularly and have posted videos that promote our work as well as photos, links to reports, quotes from our engagement work to encourage engagement, promote how to get involved, our events, healthy lifestyle information and self-care campaigns.  We currently have nearly 5,000 Twitter followers. 

Twitter enables us to reach out to a wider audience through our own followers and through retweets by followers and partners.  It allows us to also reach people who do not usually engage and build effective relationships with those who follow us.   We monitor activity daily to enable us to respond quickly to comments received and feed these back quickly into the organisation.  

We live tweet through public events and use #hashtags to get more people reading and responding to our information.   

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5. Accessible information

We ensure all our documents are easily accessible to the public and easy to understand. Documents are written in plain English and those we share publicly are reviewed by the Patient Engagement Group.

To ensure we are able to engage widely, all of our printed materials will include information about how people can get access to alternative formats and easy read materials.

6. How we support staff to effectively involve

Following feedback from our groups regarding accessibility and clarity of papers, we have put together a guidance document to help support staff in presenting to patients and the public about their work.

Papers are circulated a week in advance, so we encourage staff to submit papers to enable members the time to prepare questions and contemplate the material. 

The following guidance included top tips when preparing papers including the following:

  • Avoiding the use of any acronyms
  • Using plain English and making sure sentences are short and concise.
  • Avoiding Jargon or technical terminology.
  • Explaining any medical terms used. If possible, use a glossary of terms
  • Using visuals
  • Including a brief description and key alongside any tables, graphs and diagrams.
  • Do not include too much text on one page
  • Being clear on what the feedback will influence
  • Cover how you will feedback the difference made via you said…we did..

Click on the link to view our Commissioning Staff Guidance - Presentation Template

We also support staff to produce material and presentations in accessible and appropriate formats. This year an easy read presentation was developed for commissioning colleagues by the PPI Team to enable effective involvement with the LD forum.

Please click on the link to view our Transforming Care Easy Read presentation.

7. Involvement in our governance

Patient and public representatives take part in our decision making – including through the appointment of lay members to our Governing Body and to members of CCG staff (where appropriate). Lay members (members of the public who act as an advocate for public interests) are also a part of our Governing Body and sub-committees. 

Healthwatch Merton is a member of our Primary Care sub-committee, Quality sub-committee, Patient Engagement Group and other committees.

We also have individual patient representatives on committees such as Primary Care and Urgent Care to feed directly into the commissioning cycle.

Across south west London, the patient and public engagement steering group makes sure there is effective lay involvement and public engagement across the South West London Health and Care Partnership.

8. Our partners

We work hand in hand with our Patient Engagement Group, Wilson Community Reference Group and directly involve patient and community representatives in decision making.

Critical to our success is also maintaining strong and effective relationships with our local communities and partners to support us to make effective decisions and assure our patient and public involvement.

Through our partnerships, we also regularly share information about getting involved and the work we are doing on a range of other partner websites and bulletins including through Healthwatch and the Merton Voluntary Services Council.  They promote our involvement opportunities and host content on their websites, which enable us to get a much wider reach to the local population. 



We work very closely with Healthwatch and they are involved in several CCG committees. We share information regularly and seek advice and guidance on our plans. This enables us to reach more people across Merton.  

We have also commissioned Healthwatch to undertake engagement on our behalf with seldom heard communities through the Improving Healthcare Together programme – you can read more about this on the Improving Healthcare Together website.

Merton Voluntary Services Council (MVSC)MVSC is the umbrella organisation for the voluntary and community sector services in Merton.  We work closely with them to make the best use of their networks as well as our own direct contact to reach out to voluntary sector organisations and other communities. They are supporting the development of the wellbeing workstream of the Wilson Health and Wellbeing Campus.
Local Transformation Board (LTB) Communications and Engagement GroupThe LTB Communications and Engagement Group brings together communications and engagement staff from all the statutory and voluntary organisations in Merton and Wandsworth to work together on shared priorities.  The group discusses their engagement activity so that outcomes and intelligence can be shared and more communities can be reached through coordinating activities.  

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