Development of a Rural Health Strategy for Wales

Wales Rural Health Strategy report cover The project was not just to ‘consult’ people (say by simple interview or questionnaire) but actively to engage with a wide range of rural stakeholders in order that their views might contribute to the development of a rural health strategy for Wales.

The engagement programme included nine Focus Group two-hour discussions with geographically and socially diverse groups across rural Wales; four half-day Stakeholder Forums held across rural Wales and the distribution across rural Wales of Freepost consultation flyers with ‘simple’ open-ended questions and short text boxes to encourage a large scale response.

A range of Events were also held at the major Royal Welsh show – including large scale half-day Forum-style meetings with rural voluntary sector stakeholders, detailed face-to-face interviews with show visitors and the distribution of a consultation ‘Flyer’ inviting people to submit their views in writing.

Given the nature of the project, it was important to engage with a full cross-section of the population, including sub-groups of the population who may have specific needs or different perspectives that the strategy would need to consider. These groups included:

  • Mental Health service users
  • Families with children
  • Rural agriculture-related workers
  • Disabled people
  • Migrant workers
  • Young people aged under 25
  • Minority or disadvantaged groups
  • Voluntary sector representatives
  • NHS staff and medical professionals

The general aim of our facilitation was to provide a safe and encouraging atmosphere in which people could express their ideas freely without feeling inhibited or awkward in any way.

For the Stakeholder Forums and most Focus Groups, ORS used ‘real-time reporting’ – in which inter-active Powerpoint presentations are used both to present basic stimulus material and to record people’s ideas during the course of the meetings. People’s points of view are captured ‘publicly’ as they are expressed – both to focus people’s minds on the discussion and to provide ‘outputs’ for refinement and editing as the discussion proceeds.

The outcomes were reviewed by the Welsh Assembly Government to inform the development of a long term strategy.