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Ordinary and effective : the Catch-22 in managing the public voice in health care ?

Learmonth, M. and Martin, G. and Warwick, P. (2009) 'Ordinary and effective : the Catch-22 in managing the public voice in health care ?', Health expectations., 12 (1). pp. 106-115.


Introduction  Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 is regularly invoked to critique the irrationality inherent in supposedly rational bureaucracy. We explore a Catch-22 for policy concerning public involvement in English health care: you have to be ordinary to represent the community effectively, but, if you are ordinary, you cannot effectively represent your community. The nature of public participation groups  Starting with community health councils, we trace government policy about involving local people in health care, up to the current arrangements for local involvement networks and show how the above Catch-22 works. We do this in two principal ways. First, by an analysis of some of the unrecognized paradoxes in current government policies designed to populate health-care participation groups and second, by providing a series of narrative vignettes, drawn from our own experiences of working in such groups, which illustrate the nature of the dilemmas members face. Conclusions  Our proposal to get out of the worst of the Catch-22 for effective public involvement groups is (paradoxically) to suggest focusing less on effectiveness, or more precisely, focusing less on those conventional, managerially defined notions of effectiveness that are now pretty much taken for granted within public services. This is because, if bodies like LINks are to do more than provide unthreatening, homogenous and tokenistic public perspectives, they need to be given space and time to pursue their own agendas.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Community health councils, Community representation, Local involvement networks, Patient forums, Patient involvement.
Full text:Full text not available from this repository.
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Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:No date available
Date of first online publication:March 2009
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