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Developing a federated model of General Practice: Communications and engagement

"Nothing in life is more important than the ability to communicate effectively."
Gerald R. Ford, 38th President of the United States

Two-way communication and engagement with all stakeholders is an area many Federations find the toughest nut to crack!

I remember being told as a youngster at school (yes I can just about remember that far back), that during the First World War messages from the trenches were poorly communicated back to headquarters, with the example of "send us reinforcements we are going to advance", being translated to, "send us three and four pence we are going to a dance".

What was being highlighted is how any message can quickly be lost in translation, which for me is where the real problem lies - what we intend to communicate is not what the recipient receives, and that will cause problems. Email is the worst culprit for this effect, as it is such an impersonal way to communicate, with the best intentioned messages often being interpreted in a very different way by the recipient.

For this reason we suggest a proven and easy way to tackle the issue and achieve results you require. Key is first understanding the reasons for engagement and then selecting the right way to communicate. This also ties back to my last post about needing to view feedback as a gift that you can act upon.

We therefore recommend:

  • A framework for you to consider the key components necessary to communicate and engage with stakeholders;
  • You take time to identify all stakeholders, their issues and how you will engage with each;
  • Walk a mile in their shoes by ensuring you understand their current situation and their view of you (and what underpins and drives that view, whether positive or negative);
  • Tie your process back to your key engagement objectives.

To that process we then underpin your work with:

A framework to identify your Stakeholder Participation Goals; are you:

  • Informing?
  • Consulting?
  • Involving?
  • Collaborating?
  • Empowering?

A prioritisation model;           

  • Based on the importance/influence of each stakeholder
  • To capture their perceived level of interest

By the end of the initial process you will have a plan, which prioritises stakeholders, agrees the key messages and actions you will deliver, identifies the roles and responsibilities within the Federation and provides you with a method to track progress.

This plan will also be flexible enough for you to be able to make changes as you progress based upon the interaction with your stakeholders.

"Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people" Jim Rohn

For more information on how BW Medical Accountants can support you in forming a federation, the set-up and beyond (including engagement plan frameworks) or to arrange to speak to one of our experts please contact or call 0191 653 1022.

Additionally, if you should have questions for our experts, please email

Scott Mckenzie

Scott Mckenzie

NHS Management Consultant

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