First thoughts from Claire
People’s Board member, Claire Weaver talks about her early impressions on joining the Board and what it was like to be part of the procurement process for the new carers contract in Bradford District.
One of the concerns I had when I joined the People’s Board was that public engagement might be a ‘tick the box’ exercise for the decision makers at the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), but I am pleased to report that my experiences even in my short time with the People’s Board show that there is a genuine commitment to engagement and it is making a difference.
As a carer for my 22 year old daughter, I was keen to get involved with the assessment of the bids for the young carers’ support service. I was invited, along with Huma, a young carer, to sit on the evaluation panel. Initially, I was a little nervous and unsure what to expect. We were made to feel welcome and were supplied with cups of tea and tasty treats to keep us going through what was an intensive afternoon reviewing the bids in detail. The CCG members of the panel explained the process and kept us focussed on the important questions. They also ensured that we evaluated the bids in a fair manner and judged them against the criteria set out in the tender and documentation.
Both Huma and I were given the opportunity to give our views and it was interesting to have two different perspectives from carers. Huma’s views were particularly valuable as a young carer and I certainly felt that our views were used to inform the evaluation and made a positive contribution to the commissioning process. It was a tiring afternoon – we were asked for any initial feedback at the end. We had both felt that there was a lot of documentation to read and absorb in a short space of time and would have preferred to have had the opportunity to read the tender documentation in advance of the meeting. Obviously, the bids themselves are confidential and couldn’t be distributed outside of the meeting, but the tender itself could have been. The CCG members accepted that comment and confirmed they would take note of it for future evaluations with public engagement. It is positive to see that there is a commitment to making improvements to ensure that future engagement is as effective as possible. I look forward to being involved in future public engagement initiatives and feel I would be more confident in asking for information in advance.