One of our favourite things about Citizen Space user group meetings is getting to hear honest and insightful stories from people ‘at the coalface’ of online consultations. Customers come along and give us a behind-the-scenes peek at what it’s really like to encourage better public involvement within their organisations.

For example, at our October 2015 user group meeting, Beth Johnson, Digital Communications Manager for NHS England, introduced us to how they’ve been using Citizen Space for more than just running traditional surveys or questionnaires online.

She began by explaining that ‘engagement is at the heart of everything we do’, and that NHS England has a range of audiences to engage: ‘it’s important to get the views of clinicians and other staff – it’s not just patients.’

As a result of this broad engagement remit, NHS England use Citizen Space in quite diverse ways. Beth told us how:

  • they use it for activity on both a local and national level (ensuring a standardised approach)
  • they expect some of their surveys to have several thousand responses (so Citizen Space’s scalability and unlimited participant licensing comes in handy), but they also use the platform for activity at much smaller scale
  • they also run things like the Child Health Information Systems questionnaire via Citizen Space. At around 110 questions (!), it’s a sizeable undertaking and not quite a typical ‘public consultation’ but nevertheless an excellent way to get good use out of their Citizen Space instance.

Similarly, in an impressive bit of innovation, NHS England get added value from Citizen Space by using it in ways we didn’t even necessarily have in mind when we built it! For example, they handle applications for things like Clinical Reference Groups via the system (rather than using, say, a basic online form). Beth explained that one reason for taking this approach was the superior analysis information they can access, thanks to the back-end data tools in Citizen Space.

Oh, and she also briefly mentioned how work experience students had come in and, within hours, been able to build surveys using Citizen Space. We like that.