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Are you eagerly anticipating the chance to vote? Inspired by the options available and confident that whoever wins it’ll be a good thing for the health sector? Excited about the genuine investment in things that matter and encouraged by the thoughtful exploration of things we could do differently? If so you’re either reading different news to me, or you’re a Q member, looking forward to Q’s innovative funding programme Q Exchange. This year, over 3300 members will be able to vote online for the projects they feel should receive up to £30,000, between Monday 7 October and Monday 21 October.

This blog explains a bit more about the process, the voting rules, and why Q Exchange is designed this way. The shortlisting panels, made up of Q member volunteers, had the difficult task of whittling down the 117 ideas submitted to the 30 projects on the shortlist. A final review and selection of the shortlist was conducted by the Health Foundation, NHS Improvement and NHS England, who are providing the funding.

Over the two themes, there are 18 projects in the building improvement capability across boundaries theme, of which 12 will go through. 12 on the list are in the understanding alternatives to traditional models of outpatients theme, from which eight will be chosen. This split reflects the proportion of project ideas that were originally put forward across the two themes.

Q Ecxchange vote process

All Q members have the chance to vote once and will need to choose six projects for their vote to count: three in each category. We’ve gone for this voting model thanks to the advice from experts in participatory budgeting approaches and from the Q members who helped us design Q Exchange. Why? Well, we know that some people will have projects or organisations that they know personally that they will want to support. By requiring people to cast six votes, all weighted equally, this tends to mean everyone looks beyond personal connections and individual professional tribes, and votes for a wider range of projects.

All Q members have the chance to vote once and will need to choose six projects for their vote to count: three in each category

The lessons we learnt from the voting process last year suggests Q members take their voting responsibility seriously, as they backed ideas without significant geographical or professional parochialism. This year, online voting means reach shouldn’t be limited by who can attend the annual community event. This is the first time we’ve done this voting model and we will be working with our independent evaluators and with an organisation that manages election processes to understand any particular patterns in how members vote, to help us improve our offer.

You can vote via the Q website – for fairness the projects will be randomly ordered each time you log on, so don’t expect the lists to always look the same. It’s a shopping basket design, so you can select the projects you’d like to vote for and then check your final choices in the basket (ballot) before you submit your votes. When I was helping test the system, I found that the vote itself takes around 10 to 15 minutes once I knew which projects I would like to vote for, so we suggest you spend some time reviewing the shortlist before casting your votes. Once you have voted a red ribbon will appear on your Q profile picture to say you’ve voted and to encourage other members to vote.

We’re encouraging bidding teams to campaign actively to try to secure your votes, within the bounds of the Q compact and in the spirit of a funding programme that’s about collaboration as much as competition. You’ll see that you can add comments to the project pages throughout, helping to improve everyone’s ideas.

Our cunning plan is to inspire you to share advice with the bidding teams, whether or not you vote for them.

I confess, as with all elections, there are ulterior motives at play … It’s true, we’re not just asking Q members to vote because we think those who understand improvement are well placed to choose what’s most important and what’s likely to work. We’re also in the process hoping to encourage you to look at projects that you feel could benefit your organisation or others you know. And our cunning plan is to inspire you to share advice with the bidding teams, whether or not you vote for them, and perhaps mention the work to others you know who could learn something from it.

Against a backdrop where election fever feels more like the onset of a nasty seasonal bug than the flush of excitement, Q Exchange is here to help spread positive ideas and energy. Set aside 30 mins to vote between 7 and 21 October and play your part.

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