Public consultation process

What is a public consultation?

Public consultation is a regulatory process by which the public's input is sought into matters affecting them. Its main goals are to improve the efficiency, transparency and public involvement in large-scale projects or laws and policies.

Why are you consulting about this and why can’t you just do it?

There is a statutory requirement for NHS bodies to formally consult with patients, the public, other stakeholders and relevant committees when considering a substantial change in the provision of a service . This is important as it gives us the best opportunity to hear from the public, communities and stakeholders and for them to meaningfully be able to help shape NHS services.

What is this public consultation about?

This public consultation is about 4 NHS services in Lincolnshire and our proposal to change them to make them sustainable and improve the quality of care and health outcomes for the people of Lincolnshire.

What is the public consultation not about?

The public consultation does not cover any other NHS services, such as mental health, hospital or primary care services (those based in and around GP surgeries, pharmacies, opticians and dentists). Lots of work continues to happen to ensure these services keep improving, which will support any changes we make to our hospital services. Whilst we are only consulting on the four NHS services, we continuously welcome feedback on all NHS services in the county.


To give us your feedback on any other services, go to

Who is delivering the public consultation?

NHS Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is leading the public consultation.  NHS Lincolnshire CCG commissions services from many healthcare providers, including United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (who currently provide these four services) and has been working closely with them and other stakeholders to develop the proposals for change.

Who is being consulted?

All households in Lincolnshire are being invited to take part in the public consultation.  We welcome views from staff and stakeholders, as well as anyone who is affected by, uses the services or may use these services in the future.

What is the aim of the public consultation?

The aim of the public consultation is to tell you about potential changes that may affect you, your family or friends who may use these services now or in the future.  We will gather opinions and feedback from the people of Lincolnshire on the proposed changes to NHS services to help inform the decision making process regarding the future of these services.

What happens after the public consultation closes?

Once the public consultation has ended, all feedback will be collated by an independent body (Opinion Research Services) and reported back to NHS Lincolnshire CCG.  This report will be published in full and referred to during the decision making process.

Will Opinion Research Services pass any comments that might be relevant directly to the CCGs or will they filter them out?

All comments from the surveys, letters and other correspondence will be passed to the CCG with no information filtered out.

Who is responsible for deciding what happens to the services?

NHS Lincolnshire CCG is responsible for making a decision on the change proposals following the consultation through a decision making business case.

How do I know that you will take my views on board?

All views are valuable to this public consultation and all feedback will be reported. The consideration of this feedback is an important part of the decision making process.  The final decision will be made based on what is deemed to be in the best interests of the wider population of Lincolnshire, taking into account the feedback from the public consultation.

What if the majority of people who responded to the public consultation reject the proposed changes? How many negative comments do you need to receive before proposal is overturned?

The public consultation is not a vote, it is about listening to what people think about our proposals and the impact that any of the options would have on them and their family. Therefore there is no quantitative ruling in place. All views will be taken into consideration as part of the decision-making process. They will also help inform what plans the CCGs put in place to help lessen any negative impact that any final decision may have on our communities.​​​​​

Will I be informed about any decisions made?

Yes.  A report will be available on the website once the results have been collated and a decision made.

Has a date been set when the decision will be made?

No. A decision making meeting on the future of these local services will not take place until after the public consultation has concluded, the feedback from public consultation has been analysed and the available evidence has been reviewed. The length of time that takes will depend upon how much feedback we receive, though we are working towards a March 2022 timeframe at present.

Please can you tell me more about the engagement events? What is the format and can I ask questions?

The events are open to everyone, though venues have individual guidelines in accordance with Covid, and on occasion this may mean we must limit the number who can attend. In this instance we will inform people in advance and implement a booking system so that no one has a wasted journey. We will also repeat events in such locations so that everyone who wishes to can attend.

At each event there will be a short presentation of information before an opportunity for questions. There will be staff on hand to answer any questions members of the public might have. Any that cannot be answered will be followed up with experts after the event and fed back.

Our virtual event will provide the same information and opportunity to ask questions, but through an online format.​​​​​

What if I don’t have a computer?

If you do not have access to a computer, and are not able to attend any of the face to face events, please contact us to receive a copy of the information shared at the event, and a questionnaire to complete. You can send any questions you may have to us also ahead of completing the questionnaire. You can contact us on or 01522 421860 Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm.

How are you promoting engagement events, aside from social media?

Our full public consultation plan can be found on our website. Promotions include:

  • working closely with local newspapers, magazines and radio stations to promote the engagement events
  • paying to advertise the events in local media
  • sharing information about each event on social media, both ours and asking partners to do so
  • placing posters and leaflets across the county in hospital buildings, GP surgeries and other NHS buildings
  • delivering an information leaflet to households across the county
  • attending market days and other locations across the county with information
  • attending partners’ events to discuss and promote the events​​​​​​

Why are you carrying out this public consultation when the Covid pandemic is still an issue?

The review of these NHS services in Lincolnshire has been running for a long time, well before the pandemic, as has engagement with the public and stakeholders about them.  One clear message from this engagement is the support for rapid change if we are to improve and sustain our services.  To delay this lengthy process further would inevitably put these services at greater risk.  We are mindful of government guidelines and will continue to adhere to these.  Concerted efforts have been made to ensure that people will have many different ways they can engage with the process.  Face to face events are only a part of the public consultation but great consideration has been given to ensuring they can take place in a safe environment that allows for suitable social distancing for those wishing to attend.​​​​​​

I’d like to attend an event but I’m worried about Covid. What safety measures will be in place?

All locations will have specific guidelines regarding Covid safety which will be made available prior to attending an event.

We encourage those attending a face to face event to wear a face mask and all venues will be seated enabling us to ensure safe social distancing.  We are also hosting a number of virtual events for those who do not wish to attend a face to face event, and will have a 24/7 available virtual event option to maximise access for the public.​​​​​

There is no event planned on the schedule for where I live. Why not?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to host an event in every location within the 12 week public consultation timeframe.  The locations selected have been based on accessibility and are central to localities with larger populations across Lincolnshire to make events as accessible as possible to as many as possible. We have included online live and pre-recorded events on our website, to enable access for those who can’t make it to an in-person event.​​​​​​

I cannot attend an event but I don’t want to miss out.

Face to face events will be recorded and broadcast as virtual events on our website.  If you are not able to attend a face to face event, you will be able to receive the same information at a virtual event.

What about seldom heard groups?

The CCG has a legal duty, under the Equality Act 2010, to remove or minimise any disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristics e.g. people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME), disabled people and people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) community. We work hard to fulfil our duty and this will continue to happen. Our public consultation plan, which is available on our website, provides full detail of how we will communicate and engage with people with protected characteristics.​​​​​​

Do the CCG have patient representatives?

Yes, as part of our core structure we have patient representatives (Lay People) that sit on key groups to provide advice and guidance. We also have a ‘Patient and Public Advisory Group’ which is made up of lay people.

In this public consultation, are you engaging with and including the views of people in neighbouring counties who may access county services? 

CCGs have a legal responsibility to involve and consult with all patients who use their hospital services.

Why has this whole ASR process taken so many years?

The process for evaluating these Lincolnshire NHS services has been complex. It was important that we initially looked at the full range of options for improvement relating to hospital services, and considered the views of our staff and stakeholders as we reviewed them. This process resulted in a long list of potential options for improvement to numerous services, which clinical and operational teams across the NHS in the county were able to develop into a short list.  Once this short list of options was determined, a period of engagement with stakeholders was carried out.

The limited availability of capital funding required a further review to identify those services most at risk which we could improve despite the lack of funding. Reviewing this development with clinical colleagues and stakeholders, as well as the twelve month NHS England and Improvement thereafter was another important part of the process. This public consultation is the final step in the process of reviewing and consulting to inform NHS Lincolnshire CCG’s decision about the future of these services.

When are you going to announce the outcome?

Clearly we need to undergo a thorough review and analysis of the feedback we receive through the public consultation. This will be done by an independent and specialist organisation. They have been advising us upon the anticipated timeframe for this, which they believe will be lengthened due to our decision to distribute a leaflet about the public consultation to every household (which should have the effect of increasing awareness and response rate). We hope to be in a position to consider the analysis of public feedback at the Lincolnshire NHS CCG board on 30th March 2022, however this is subject to a number of variables, and so cannot be confirmed at this stage.

Why does the public consultation end just before Christmas?

We want to deliver a public consultation that runs long enough to ensure as many people as possible have the chance to respond, hence it will be live for 12 weeks. Throughout the calendar year, it is difficult to find 12 consecutive weeks that do not run across a holiday season, or school holidays etc. We are pleased that the public consultation will not run across the Christmas or new year festivities, when many people will be less able to respond, and we are committed to sharing the outcome outside of these times too, so that as many people are updated as possible at this stage.

If enough people respond unsupportively, does that mean these proposals won’t happen?

This public consultation is important to enable the public to respond with their feedback on the proposals. The value of this feedback is not measured according to the volume of responses, but rather against assessment criteria, one of which for example is that any future service must be deliverable. Therefore, a single questionnaire that introduces a new factor that could alter a proposal, or introduce an alternative proposal will impact the decision making process more than a large volume of returned questionnaires that simply state opposition to a proposal.

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