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Reference Groups - A quick guide

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What is a reference group? 

A reference group can have different purposes. Here, we explain the kind of reference groups we need to help us shape health services in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. They are usually specific to a subject matter, or can be used to understand the views of several areas of discussion. They bring together a group of people who represent their community, where they can hear views, consider information and share insights based on their knowledge and experiences.

Our reference groups will help us understand the priorities of the local community, so that we keep these clearly in mind when we are planning services.

The groups will do this by:

  • bringing their experience of using, or working in, our services
  • bringing their knowledge and understanding of local areas and communities 
  • sharing their views as we discuss a range of proposals.


Who can join the reference groups? 

To join one of our reference groups, you will need to either:

  • live or work in the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent area
  • represent your community, patients or service users in the area.

Ideally, you will have either:

  • used the service we will be discussing
  • supported other people who use the service
  • worked in the service.

We want the groups to be as representative as possible of the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent communities – including the groups we don’t often hear from. 

To do this, we will look at the demographic information you give us when you apply to join a group. (This includes answers about your age, gender, ethnicity, and where you live). We will use this information to help us build balanced groups that reflect the local population. This means we might not be able to offer you a place on the reference group you have applied to join, although we will try to involve as many people as we reasonably can. We will let you know if you have a place on the group as soon as we can. 


What specific tasks will the reference groups carry out? 

Before the meetings 

  • Read the information packs that we will send out in advance, so that you have a good understanding of all the issues.

At the meetings

If we ask you to join one of our reference groups, we will ask you to come to two or three workshops. We will ask you to give us your views on the different proposals that we are currently considering. You will do this by:

  • joining in discussions
  • actively listening to and respecting the views of others
  • sharing your views and insights
  • completing specific tasks and templates during the workshops. 


What won’t the reference groups do? 

The reference groups will not make decisions about which proposals are taken forward. The views and feedback that you give us – combined with the feedback we have gathered from our surveys and earlier events – will be shared with our clinicians and managers. This will help them to create a shortlist of proposals.


Do reference group members get paid? 

If you take part in one of these reference groups, and complete all the necessary stages, we will pay a small fee to thank you for your time, subject to specific conditions being met. We will give you more details if you are selected to join a group.


Accessibility support  

We will have arrangements in place to make the events as accessible as reasonably possible, for example for people with learning disabilities, who cannot access information digitally or have a sensory impairment. If you have a specific requirement or can support us in making our groups accessible, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone 0333 150 2155.


How do I join a reference group? 

Follow the link below to be directed to the relevant recruitment questionnaire. If you need help completing the form please contact us using the details above. 


Long-term solution for the inpatient mental health services previously provided from the George Bryan Centre – online Teams event on Tuesday 15 March, 3pm – 5pm (waiting room open from 2.30pm)

This event has taken place so registrations are closed 


Urgent and Emergency Care and Difficult Decisions policies and procedures

Reference Group Recruitment Questionnaire – urgent and emergency care and Difficult Decisions policies and procedures