Citizens’ Panel

A leading independent provider of NHS services had developed an engagement model to keep citizens in the areas it works involved with the changes they were making to services. The model was based around the concept of a research panel, much-used by private sector companies to inform changes and development, as part of a plan to banish the restrictive public meetings favoured by traditional health providers.

I provided advice and practical support to take the model from concept to reality using tools the organisation already had to develop a scalable platform for engaging citizens offline and online.

The Citizens’ Panel allows citizens to pick from being informed (just kept up to date) asked (able to take part in surveys) or involved (taking part in co-design projects), pick the topics they’re interested in and leave and join whenever they like with the support and advice I provided enabling engagement managers to make best use of the panel they’ve built.


  • I developed a full toolkit of materials, templates and guides to allow anyone to launch, recruit to and run a Citizens’ Panel from a standing start in 3 months.
  • The panel meets and exceeds commissioners’ requirements for consultation, embedding an approach of ‘purposeful engagement’ and avoiding ‘ticking the boxes’
  • Reporting templates simplifies the process of reporting on engagement projects and means project managers know what they’ll be getting.
  • The clever use of the organisation’s existing technology and segmentation based on interest level and topics makes the panel infinitely scalable, ending the days of needing to limit the size of panels in the health service.
  • The national branding keeps things simple, but also gives the organisation access to an ever-growing national research panel with pre-expressed interest.
  • Effective use of the progressive levels of engagement allows managers to encourage users to ‘promote’ panel members to become more involved.

The Citizens’ Panel aims to ensure users ‘feel the difference’ when compared with other providers’ engagement projects, following the principle that researchers should always leave respondents no less likely to take part in projects in the future.

Nik MacMillan

  • Client: VCL
  • Date: Jul 30, 2017