Whilst Scotland may arguably have managed lockdown, COVID infection, hospital admission and mortality, better than much (all) of the UK, Scotland is still facing significant challenges not only in supporting their communities through the COVID crisis, but also, with partners, in supporting them through a period of recovery.  The scale of change is unprecedented and can only be addressed through a process of radical change. Whether thinking about moving from emergency/temporary changes to a permanent state or more widespread fundamental changes to operating models and the requirement for engagement and consultation with the public is as important as ever. 

Before COVID lockdown our work in Scotland had ramped up. Clients experienced in formal consultation were becoming increasingly aware of challenges to their processes focussing not on final option consultation but on how they arrived at these options, that is their pre-consultation or engagement phase including option development/appraisal and impact analysis (inequalities, equalities and travel). This is not surprising given the focus on decision rather than formulation in the Scottish legislation: NHS Reform Act (2004). Our view is that there is an increasing disconnect between service change management and public engagement work that will almost certainly be tested in the courts in the near future

We are working with a number of clients on a post COVID risk management approach to engagement and consultation to enable programmes to safely reach a decision point within the existing legal framework. In some cases this can be achieved without undertaking lengthy and costly public consultation and through using inexpensive technology solutions.

We also offer a readiness assessment for organisations across all of their functions to understand the scale of change that they may need to take forward post COVID, and the degree to which they have the skills and capacity in place to conduct the scale of engagement and consultation required as part of recovery plans.  Here is our framework for organisations to consider what temporary changes they have made that they may wish/need to make permanent:

  • What is the list of temporary changes you need to consider?
  • What other changes do you have on the table COVID, or non-COVID related
  • Which of these are priorities for consultation (consider a risk assessment approach)?
  • Who do you need to engage – strategic partners, in planning consultation (strategic stakeholder mapping across departments)?
  • What evidence can you collect from temporary changes to understand the impact on people with protected characteristics under equality law?
  • What capacity and skills (skills audit) do you have in place / need to work through that programme of change from a consultation point of view?

We believe we understand where the challenges may come from, in response we have co-produced with clients a useful diagnostic process, risk assessment tools and adapted a range of toolkits to support their engagement and consultation activity

We offer a free 30 minute consultation to discuss your needs and help you to invest strategically for an efficient path to decision on your recovery programme.

We can also prove practical support for consultation and engagement process management capacity challenges

We can help with:

  • Developing an issues paper
  • Writing an engagement plan and timeline
  • Undertaking equalities and inequalities analysis
  • Undertaking engagement including analysing outputs and reporting of findings
  • Drafting consultation documents including feedback methods
  • Undertaking consultation activity including analysing outputs and reporting of findings

For further information contact:


07887 653 280


07974 267109

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