NHS Citizen aimed to bring voices from diverse communities into decision-making processes and to hold the Board of NHS England to account. The Democratic Society and partners designed and tested a method that built on established principles relating to patient involvement and deliberative democracy.

An exciting and essential aspect to this project was that we designed the programme with citizens in public.

The design of NHS Citizen essentially consisted of three aspects: listening to what people were already talking about; gathering these discussions and joining them up as evidence; and bringing members of the public and key groups together with the board of NHS England to discuss ideas and work together on actions and solutions, at a Citizen’s Assembly.

We began building a first iteration of the design in June 2015, and the first cycle of the programme was launched in July, with a variety of online and offline engagement. This finished with an Assembly meeting in November 2015, which brought together 250 citizens from across England, and the board of NHS England. They discussed five issues which had arisen and been selected through the process. Videos of this assembly meeting were published online.

NHS England are now considering how to continue this programme. This includes exploring how to ensure that the learning from the first iteration is taken into account, and thinking how NHS Citizen can be embedded into both NHS England decision-making processes and their wider public participation work.

NHS Citizens was commissioned by the board of NHS England. Delivery partners were The Tavistock Institute, Involve, and Public-I.

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