Community Power and the NHS: call for evidence

New Local is exploring how community power can protect the future of the NHS – and we’re seeking your views.

We have opened a call for evidence to gather insights from far and wide that can inform our research, including a major report later this year. Closing date: 9 July 2021.

We all love the NHS, our dearest national institution. But health services as we know them are under threat.

Even before the pandemic hit, the NHS was lurching from winter crisis to crisis, beset by staff shortages and underfunding.

The experience of Covid exposed how fragile our health service is, yet how deeply dedicated the people who work within it are.

The pressures on the NHS are widely recognised. We are living longer, many of us with long-term conditions.

Health inequalities are growing and continue to blunt the life chances of too many. Increasing numbers of people experience so-called ‘lifestyle-related’ poor health such as obesity and diabetes.

Sir Michael Marmot speaking on health inequalities at New Local’s Stronger Things event

These all require ongoing support and a focus on individual health and wellbeing. In the absence of this, too many people fall back on hospitals as a last resort. Unless we address this, costs will continue to spiral.

As we emerge from the greatest health emergency our country has faced in peacetime, can we build back a better health system?

At New Local we believe the time is right to imagine how an approach to health that is rooted in our communities could create a more resilient and sustainable system, with better outcomes for all.

This would recognise the role of hospitals and clinical care to treat ill health when it happens, but as part of a wider system which places the individual at its heart – to prevent problems happening in the first place.

We would like to hear from you about how we can make this a reality.

Community power recognises that people themselves are well placed to identify what would help them to thrive.

What is community power? animation

The role of services is to support this, rather than always just decide what’s best on their behalf.

Find out more about community power.

Community power is growing as a force:

  • Increasingly people themselves expect to have more of a say over services they use.
  • Many professionals are using practices which understand that people are the experts in their own situation.
  • And increasingly public services recognise that their interventions are more sustainable if they seek to work with, rather than on behalf of, people.
Dr Jaweeda Idoo on community power in the NHS

Community power is not new in health terms. For decades it has been recognised that people with long-term conditions benefit from participating in peer-support groups.

Recent NHS reforms have considered the role of place in integrating services. But the concept is yet to fully take hold to influence the logic and mindset of the system as a whole.

Dr Mark Spencer has helped revolutionise the health of his Lancashire community – working alongside residents to set up health-improving groups – from singing to fishing.

As a result, A&E admissions have fallen as the community has come together. Read in full.

Call for Evidence: we would like to hear from you

New Local Chair Professor Donna Hall on our call for evidence

We know that the expertise to make the shift towards a more community powered NHS already exists in practice. There are lots of initiatives out there pioneering different ways of working.

We would love to hear your stories, insights, innovations, and observations about the opportunities for, and barriers to, community power in the NHS.

This call for evidence will inform a major report which we will publish later this year, setting out a new vision for a community-powered NHS.

Call for Evidence questions
  • What opportunities would a community-powered NHS bring, and what barriers exist which might prevent us getting there?
  • What are the best examples of community power in health services?  
  • How do you think the system needs to change to address health inequalities and make a shift towards prevention? 
  • Are there examples of best practice from other countries that we in the UK could learn from?
  • Has the Covid-19 pandemic changed the how NHS services work with communities? Are there any innovations we should consider keeping for the future?
How to submit your views to our call for evidence

We would really like to hear from you, and hope to make submitting evidence as simple and accessible as possible. You can either:

  • Send us a written submission addressing any or all of the questions above (in Word or pdf format)
  • Send us a video or audio submission in response to any or all of the above questions (in mp4 format)

All submissions should be sent to by 9 July 2021.

Please indicate in your submission if you are willing for you and/or your organisation to be listed as having submitted evidence.

How we’ll use submissions

Your submissions will be confidential, but will feed into a major report we will publish later this year that sets out how community power can transform the NHS.

Any specific submissions will only be made attributable with your written permission.

Download this Call for Evidence as a pdf

Photo by Nicolas J Leclercq on Unsplash

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