LONDON — Traditionally, the medical and scientific community in the UK kept a healthy distance between itself and the general public. Accountability was largely a foreign concept and the opinions and views of patients were mostly discounted. But in recent times there has been a small revolution in the way ordinary people are encouraged to express themselves on everything from the quality of National Health Service (NHS) care to the temperature and flavour of hospital food.

New UK Government health institutions — such as the National Institute for Clinical Excellence and the Commission for Health Improvement — routinely consult with patient group representatives in a bid to ensure their policies and procedures reflect the concerns and wishes of the general public.

And the boards of health authorities and primary care trusts - bodies charged with the day-to-day running of the health service - all have patient representatives to counter the...

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