Press Releases

Thursday 27th October 2016

New Citizens’ Panel strengthens public voice in Scotland’s health and social care services

1,301 strong panel is first of its kind for Scotland

Pam Whittle, Shona Robison and Richard Norris






                    Pam Whittle, Shona Robison MSP & Richard Norris

A Citizens’ Panel has been established to help improve health and social care services in Scotland. Consisting of 1,301 members from across all 32 local authority areas, the Panel is an important tool to be used by the Our Voice programme of work to identify local priorities and to consult members of the public on specific issues. This is the first time a Citizens’ Panel of this nature, focusing on health and social care issues, has been established in Scotland.

A Citizens’ Panel is a large, demographically representative group of citizens who help to assess public preferences and opinions. The Panel aims to be a representative, consultative body of citizens and has been developed at a size that will allow statistically robust analysis of the views of the Panel members.

The first survey is about to be issued to the Panel.  It covers questions on unpaid informal care, use of medicines and pharmacy services, and dental services for improving oral health.  It also asks Panel members about the areas of health and social care they think the Panel should look at in the future. Once the consultative reports are finalised, they will be published on the Our Voice website.

Panel members will take part in up to four surveys a year by email or post.  There will also be other opportunities to get involved which may include attending a local discussion meeting to explore topics in more depth. Participation in the Panel is voluntary.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “Our Voice is helping to strengthen the voices of people using Scotland’s health and care systems. It builds on existing forms of engagement, supporting people to get involved in improving health and social care.

“The Our Voice Citizens' Panel will involve members of the public in helping to shape health and care policy. The Panel will give people the chance to say what they think and feel about their public services and help us ensure our health and care system works for everyone.

“I look forward to seeing the results of these surveys and hope to work with all our partners to ensure the voices of people across Scotland continue to be heard.”

Speaking of the Panel, Pam Whittle, Chair of Scottish Health Council, part of Healthcare Improvement Scotland, said: “The Citizens’ Panel is an exciting and innovative development in how we assess and consider health and social care services in Scotland now and in the future. Bringing together the Panel is a great achievement and one that has the potential to bring about great benefits. Having a fully-formed Panel of volunteers, genuinely representative of our country, and ready to provide their opinions will allow us to have a deeper and broader understanding on a variety of issues.”

Richard Norris, Director of Scottish Health Council, added: “The new Citizens' Panel is one of several new approaches that we’ve established to better understand how people think and feel about a variety of subjects that affect the health and social care that they and their loved ones receive. This is a first for Scotland and a great deal of work has gone in to ensure that the Panel includes many voices that are seldom heard and who don’t normally provide their views on health and social care issues. I’m excited about this development and keen to see the results that it achieves.”

For more information about the Citizen’s Panel and Our Voice, go to:

Notes to editors:

The Our Voice framework has been designed through a collaborative partnership involving the Scottish Government, Scottish Health Council and Healthcare Improvement Scotland, COSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) and the ALLIANCE, informed by broad reaching engagement with people and communities, and the third sector.

The framework will support people to get involved in health and social care services at different levels: as individuals, in decisions about their own care and treatment; as part of the community, in shaping and improving local health and care services; and at national level, in influencing health and social care policy and services.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland is one organisation with many parts and one purpose – to drive improvements that support the highest possible quality of care for the people of Scotland.
Key components of our organisation include The Healthcare Environment Inspectorate, Improvement Hub, Scottish Health Council, Scottish Health Technologies Group, Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network and the Scottish Medicines Consortium.

The Scottish Health Council was established by the Scottish Executive in April 2005 to promote Patient Focus and Public Involvement in the NHS in Scotland. By ensuring that NHS Boards listen and take account of people's views, we can achieve a "mutual NHS" – where the NHS works in partnership with patients, carers and the public.

For more information contact Stephen Ferguson, Communications Officer, on 07779 329 689.