Our legal duty to involve public, patients and partners

Updated: 5 Dec 2018

As outlined by NHSE (2017), NHS commissioning organisations have a legal duty under the National Health Service Act 2006 (as amended) to ‘make arrangements’ to involve the public in the commissioning of services for NHS patients ( called ‘the public involvement duty’).

As part of this duty CCGs should be able to demonstrate how they have tried to ensure:

  • Participation activity reaches diverse communities and groups with distinct health needs and those who experience difficulties accessing health services, including inclusion health groups.
  • People who have characteristics that are protected under the Equality Act 2010 are involved.
  • Engaging patients and the public in the commissioning and provision of services is recognised as best practice

We should always consider the benefits of involving the public our work and seek to take account of feedback from the public about the services we commission. In some cases the need to involve the public will be obvious; other cases will need more assessment into what is appropriate. (NHSE, 2017)

  • Changes to commissioning arrangements: The strategic planning of services e.g. reconfiguration of services  or developing and considering proposals to change commissioning arrangements, e.g. Changes to services, new models of care, new service specifications, local improvement schemes, etc.
  • Procurement: Considering or developing proposed models, configurations or specifications for a service, or commencing a procurement process.
  • Contracts: Entering into a contract with a provider or varying a contract, serving a notice to terminate a contract with a provider or  receiving a notice to terminate from a provider.
  • Equality:  An equality impact analysis may indicate the need for engagement, for example a lack of evidence relating to certain groups.
  • Overview and scrutiny referral


Guidelines and training for staff: Understand the legal duty and embedding communications and engagement within projects

We provide our staff with a toolkit to help them to assess the level of public and patient engagement that is needed within a project. We use the NHS England patient and public engagement statutory guidelines to help us with decision making.

The tools we provide include:


Here is an example of the regular training that we provide to staff:

Example presentation given in September and October 2018 to our project management and quality teams.

The purpose of the session: 

  • Set out the guidelines and principles around legal and statutory requirements for public and patient involvement
  • Looks at how we can embed engagement and communications as part of the process
  • Health inequalities and outcomes
  • Connections between engagement and equality
  • Stakeholder mapping
  • Highlight aids and toolkit available