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Engage - About Engage


Engage - Stimulating Third Sector
Engagement in the Health Sector Supply Chain

About Engage


Project Leaders: Sue Baines and Mike Bull
Sponsors: Economic and Social Research Council
Project Partner: NHS Manchester


Manchester Metropolitan University and NHS Manchester have received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Business Engagement Scheme.

The Engage project will collaborate with Third Sector Organisations (TSOs) around a common interest in health issues and building a response to the challenges facing the NHS and TSOs in the Manchester health sector in addressing need.

We aim to engage in the debate and facilitate an increase in collaboration and dialogue between parties.

Addressing social and health inequalities is at the heart of the national programme World Class Commissioning. NHS commissioners have become more aware of TSOs as potential suppliers well placed to support improvements in health services.

It is anticipated that more diverse engagement with the third sector could bring about new responses to solutions through social innovations. The co-funding partner NHS Manchester is the lead local body with responsibility for commissioning and directing NHS funds into services for all communities across the City.

A key priority within NHS Manchester’s Commissioning Strategic Plan is to reshape its local provider profile and to realise the potential of TSOs to help ensure that residents get better access, more choice and more care closer to home.  Yet to date the uptake of public sector commissioning opportunities by TSOs has been disappointingly low. 

Learning is urgently needed on both sides before NHS commissioners and TSOs start to deliver on expectations. 

This business engagement package was co-developed by NHS Manchester with Manchester Metropolitan University, and informed by extensive consultation with TSOs.

We will generate impact by:

  • Critical engagement in the debate, seeking to capture ‘where we are at now’ and ‘where we want to be’ to foster better relationships between parties. 
  • Providing individual TSOs with a diagnosis of their capacity for becoming suppliers in order to better position them to access NHS commissioning opportunities; and
  • Creating a tailored adaptation of the Balance on-line management analysis diagnostic tool, designed during the lifetime of the project in collaboration with NHS and TSOs to help organisations prove, improve and build their capability to become and stay, high performing suppliers.
  • Using seminars and placements to enhance the transfer and exchange of knowledge between social science researchers, NHS personnel and Third Sector frontline and infrastructure organisations in order to fully grasp the challenges in addressing the health needs of the local population.