There is widespread discussion at the present time of ‘participation’— allowing members of an organization to exert an influence on the processes of decision-making.
The National Health Service is not isolated from this debate and already a number of experiments have been carried out at various levels of the service to allow a wider range of opinion to influence decisions than hitherto. This paper reports on a study the author carried out into one such exercise, designed to assist a Health Board reach decisions about the longterm pattern of health care in its area. Nurses, paramedical staff and local authority staff, as well as doctors, were appointed to a series of programme planning committees to advise the Health Board on issues of longterm policy. After 2 years of operation, a study was carried out into the operation of the committees and the lessons drawn from the experience should be relevant to actual and potential members of any consultative or decision-making body.