Professional and industry groups and so called ‘independent experts’ are frequently asked for their advice and views on matters relating to the health of the community and individuals. Community and ‘lay’ people are also sometimes asked to offer their experience to consider matters of public interest in the health arena, such as priorities in resource allocation or the ethics of health services or research. Increasingly government and others are recognizing the need to hear also about the specific interests of consumers in a range of health and community issues. Often, however, the consumer perspective is forgotten or it is assumed that, since ‘we are all consumers’ it will be well represented by caring providers or those active in the community affairs.
This article gives some ideas about improving our effectiveness as consumer representatives.