Sitting as a member of the NHS constitutional advisory forum for the past four months, I found myself among an august body of people, all with a passion to drive forward one of the most significant developments in NHS history.

The forum was set up to advise ministers and the NHS chief executive on the NHS constitution consultation. The composition of the group reflected the richness and reach of the consultation. It included representatives from patients' forums, the third sector, trade unions, city councils, the Department of Health and strategic health authorities.

It has been an absolute privilege to be part of the forum and to oversee a hugely successful and inspiring consultation.

The momentum for the consultation was set in motion by the next stage review. The constitution underpins health minister Lord Darzi's vision for an NHS that places quality at its heart. I believe we have used this momentum to create unprecedented levels of engagement across the NHS.

Reaching out

In my region alone, my chairmen have engaged all 125,000 staff in the consultation through a personal email with direct links to the constitution documents. Our media campaign resulted in more than 1 million opportunities for people to read coverage of the consultation. And we have made good use of low-cost, innovative engagement methods such as blogs, websites and online surveys. The blog created at NHS East of England has received almost 5,000 hits.

We are also proud of our considerable efforts to make contact with "hard to reach" groups and partner organisations across the country. For instance, we have received feedback from faith groups in Luton, schools in Great Yarmouth and the chief executive of Age Concern.

Strong support

The clear message from the consultation has been one of tremendous support for an NHS constitution and for the NHS itself. The results of in-house surveys of hundreds of staff in my region illustrate this point.

For example, a survey run by Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital foundation trust showed that 91 per cent of people polled were supportive of the purpose and principles of the NHS contained in the draft constitution. That speaks volumes not only for the quality of the document, but also for people's affection and high regard for the NHS.

There have been similar successes in reaching staff, patients and the public across England, as my fellow SHA chairs on the forum from NHS West Midlands - Elisabeth Buggins - and NHS North West - Sir David Henshaw - will testify.

Final report

I look forward to reading the final report that the forum is producing on the consultation. It has set new precedents of partnership working for NHS organisations and has used technology to introduce a model of low-cost, high-impact public and staff engagement.

Finally, the consultation has allowed local chairs and non-executive directors to create a dialogue with their employees, patients and local communities on the fundamental principles and rights of the service, free from central diktat. Lord Darzi's vision for the NHS sees the leadership moving closer to the front line, where care is delivered. The consultation on the NHS constitution is the first profound move towards making that vision a reality.