The setting of healthcare priorities through public engagement

Br J Nurs. 2013 Apr 11-24;22(7):372-6. doi: 10.12968/bjon.2013.22.7.372.


Global fiscal constraints mean that the UK healthcare system of the 21st century can no longer provide all possible services and treatment for all the people it serves. Currently, more than ever, there is a need to set priorities in terms of resources. The allocation of scarce healthcare resources will result in some care programmes being supported while others are not. Decision makers are increasingly engaging the public in policy making and priority-setting processes. Advocates of increased public engagement argue that public services are paid for by the people and, therefore, should be shaped more extensively by them, preferably by a fully representative sample. Central to the concept of public engagement is a desire for open dialogue and debate between groups that might not ordinarily have the channels to understand or speak to one another. Public engagement activities aim to link the healthcare community with the general public, community groups, civil society organisations and any other groups or communities in the outside world where healthcare decision-making gains its relevance. This article, therefore, aims to discuss the importance of promoting public engagement.

MeSH terms

  • Community Participation*
  • Health Care Rationing
  • Health Priorities*
  • Policy Making
  • State Medicine
  • United Kingdom