A truly transparent organisation gives the public and its partners a say in the way it plans, develops and provides services.
The HPA Board has made public involvement one of its key priorities. Also the Agency is subject to Care Quality Commission Reviews which, together with the statutory requirement for greater transparency and public participation set out in the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, means we are required to demonstrate a planned approach to public involvement.
The HPA has a responsibility to raise understanding and awareness of health protection issues.
In the first instance this is achieved by providing clear, reliable, easily accessible health protection information nationally, regionally and locally so people can make informed choices about protecting the health of themselves and their families.
It is imperative that the Agency involves the public in its work. The Health Protection Agency wants to find out what people know and think about public health issues and hazards like infectious diseases, chemicals, poisons, and radiation.
In 2007 the HPA began asking people about its work and it did so again in 2009. We talked to over 3,000 people as part of these public opinion surveys. The results of the surveys informed the type of health protections advice we give to the public.
In the surveys people were asked what they thought was the best way to have their say in the work of the HPA.
People said they wanted to choose from three levels of involvement.
Level 1: Receive updates, newsletters, occasional surveys and invitations to events.
Level 2: receive all of Level 1 plus invitations to take part in one-off discussion groups
Level3: receive all of level 1&2 plus the offer to join a working group or committee.
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The final question we asked was whether they would like to join this group of people who continue to tell us what they think. Nearly 1,000 said yes and became members of our People’s Panel. Since 2007 members have taken part in over 30 discussions and workshops around the country.
We want people to help us to further develop our services. If you would like to get involved, or would just like to receive more information about the Agency, please complete our online form.
The two HPA groups with the most members from the People’s Panel are the Health Protection and Society Advisory Group and the Equality Forum.
HPSAG was set up to help shape the direction of the agency’s public involvement programme as well as reviewing and informing the way we provide public health advice and information. The membership of the group includes members of the People’s Panel, professional scientific/health communicators, the Agency’s public involvement team and a non executive director.
PISG studies public engagement issues and manages the agency’s public involvement programme. The membership of the group comprises the Director of Communications, the Head of Public Involvement, the Chair of HPSAG and the non executive director with responsibility for public and partner engagement. The group reports to the Board and HPSAG.
The HPA Equality Forum was formed in 2010 following the public consultation for the Single Equality Scheme.
The forum provides an advisory role to help the HPA improve the way it supports and considers equality and diversity in the way it works with the public. The forum contributes to the HPA diversity agenda by providing a feedback mechanism on corporate initiatives and policies such as the HPA’s equality objectives. Equality & Diversity
The membership of the forum is open to anyone committed to the equality and diversity aims of the HPA. The current membership includes representatives from the People’s Panel, the chair of HPSAG, chairs of the staff support groups and groups that represent hard to reach communities.
The Agency has a vast and influential community of local and national partners, through many of whom the agency delivers’ its work such as the NHS, local authorities, the Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive and the Food Standards Agency and professional bodies.
We aim to ensure that all parties are working together to secure the best possible use of resources to deliver health protection.
If HPA staff are preparing to change, review or develop new services which have an impact on patients, the public or partner organisations they need to develop a public consultation or involvement plan.
A guide has been produced by the HPA’s public involvement team to help staff understand how they can achieve an effective public involvement activity. We like to know when public involvement goes well so three months after the activity has been completed staff are contacted to find out what they did as the result of what they learnt.