Advice for local involvement networks and their hosts as they prepare for the end of their three year contracts
Local involvement networks and their hosts have a daunting challenge in front of them: only 12 months to make a difference and demonstrate that they can act effectively as a conduit for local citizens to engage in the commissioning and delivery of local public services.
Some hosts and LINks have taken the chance to work at a strategic level with NHS and local government colleagues, but unfortunately some are floundering in a mire of governance, power relationships and small-item issues that will never make a significant difference.
With public services facing a serious financial squeeze, driving up standards in healthcare is going to be challenging.
LINks therefore need to prioritise the things that will have the greatest impact on improving services for local people.
Hosts and LINk chairs need to:
- form solid, trusting and effective relationships with strategic partners, demonstrating bold leadership and management
- rise above the argument of who “owns the patient” and look instead to networking and co-ordination responsibilities to help add value
- know about the pressures and demands your partners are facing and ask how the expertise of local people can help this agenda
- ask what would be most effectual for your partners, and be prepared to act accordingly
- develop explicit relationships with scrutiny committees ensuring work plans and priorities are in alignment
Working in this way, LINks can demonstrate their understanding of challenges facing public services and help to support local citizens in getting their voices heard.
For all LINks, it is time to face the challenge of proving that a difference is being made. With a strategic focus on the big issues, a focus on skills in engagement and co-ordination activities and the formation of effective and sustainable working relationships, LINks can prove to be useful and challenging partners for the NHS and local government.
Pauline Owen is managing director of Concilio Associates.