Service users need a national network linking local organisations and providing support and profile to have a greater impact on policy and services, research out yesterday finds.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation paper by service user body Shaping Our Lives said improved networking would help tackle the devaluing of user experience and barriers to involvement in health and social care.
Drawing on interviews with 126 service users, it found user organisations were often isolated, forced to compete against each other or much larger bodies for funding and were undervalued by professionals.
It said a user-led national network providing a national voice, contacts, support and the exchange of information, and a database of user organisations would make involvement more effective.
Those interviewed also called for greater recognition of the diversity of service users.