Administering the System: Citizen Participation as Committee Work

  • Ellen Stewart
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Science, Knowledge and Policy book series (SKP)


Inviting citizens to join either existing or standalone committees is a key tool for healthcare organisations seeking to engage with their publics. This mode of participation is one of the most traditional ways for healthcare organisations to ‘do’ participation. In a systematic review of patient and public involvement in the UK NHS, Mockford et al. (2012, p. 30) identified committee-type roles ranging from ‘lay membership of NHS managerial boards … to patient involvement in condition-specific groups of individuals with a solitary aim’. In an international review, Mitton et al. (2009) include a ‘standing citizens’ advisory panel’ as one of 15 ‘methods of engagement’ identified, and found research reporting 51 instances of this form between 1981 and 2006. From Community Health Councils, to Public and Patient Involvement Forums, to Local Involvement Networks and Local Healthwatch, the UK, and latterly English, NHS has repeatedly turned to the creation of standing committee-style spaces as the key route for public influence in local healthcare organisations (Baggott, 2005; Mullen et al., 2011). The Australian health system has ‘Community Advisory Committees’ with similar remits (Mack, 2010). Lay representatives can be chosen either to represent a generic ‘lay’ perspective, or to compensate for the under-representation of specific groups.


Healthcare Organisation Public Involvement Citizen Participation Health Council Committee Work 
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Copyright information

© Ellen Stewart 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen Stewart
    • 1
  1. 1.University of EdinburghUK

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