The development of the Youth Commissioners model is a practical example of how to involve young people in commissioning health and social care services. Involving patients and service users in commissioning and designing services makes for more appropriate care, which is more likely to be taken up by those who need it. In addition, the model succeeds in simultaneously addressing service quality and wastage whilst building resilience and self-management amongst patients/service users.

The NIHR North Thames CLAHRC funded study developed and tested a model of patient involvement that can demonstrate improvements in service commissioning and continues to demonstrate benefits for young people and their families living in Newham. Our model can be used by other commissioners and service providers to guide their work on service improvement. Our approach provides value far beyond tailoring services for young people living with diabetes in Newham. The NIHR has recommended that we disseminate the approach as best practice around the country. We have published a guide to using the model and are designing a webinar to complement this.  The model has been adopted by Dudley Council Integrated Commissioning Hub (2018-19) to help to achieve the Dudley Children's Services Active Involvement Strategy 2017.


  1. To support the commissioning or redesign of health and social care services for young people, or other people whose voices might go unheard.
  2. To enhance involvement approaches that enables patients/service users to make a purposeful contribution, and isn't just tokenistic.
  3. To develop the skills of patient/service user groups and public sector workers, so involvement in public Institutes can make a lasting impact.


Our tried and tested approach is grounded in collaborative research. The development and testing of the Young Commissioners model was underpinned by a participatory action research approach that consisted of two systematic reviews, qualitative interviews with disengaged young patients, and community workshops using a world café approach.

Main findings

Our findings have provided a resource for Newham Clinical Commissioning Group and local health care teams (e.g. Barts, Royal Free and Barnet Hospital) to make informed decisions and act immediately to improve the delivery of services. The model has also been adopted by Dudley Council Integrated Commissioning Hub (2018-19) to help to achieve the Dudley Children's Services Active Involvement Strategy 2017 in involving young people in commissioning functions/mechanisms across the whole system.


The Young Commissioners model has been identified by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and NHS England Patient and Public Participation Team as best practice for its novel way of working with young patients and for producing tangible and meaningful impact in the field of health service design.


This webinar series is aimed at Public Institutes to support them to create a pathway for genuine public involvement for young people in service commissioning, to extend or widen existing participation structures, and to help them to review their organisational engagement strategy. The study has produced a step-by-step guide, accredited eCPD, webinar series and expert support to implement the model.


Contact us

Project Leads: Professor Angela Harden and Dr Darren Sharpe

Project Team: Emma Green

Project Partners: Diabetes UK, NHS NEL CSU, UCL Partners, Barts Hospital, Chase Farm and Royal Free Hospital, NHS Newham CCG, and Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council

Funder: CLAHRC North Thames

For more information, contact: Darren Sharpe

Darren Sharpe
Angela Harden