Application for lay membership of my local primary care group board supports the research findings reported by David James and Maxine Willitts ('House of unrepresentatives', feature, pages 32-33, 23 November) that lay members are not representative of the communities they aim to represent.

Potential candidates are excluded in the application process or they do not feel able to apply. I am not surprised that only 3 per cent of PCG board lay members were disabled/sick/unemployed and 3.9 per cent were from ethnic minority communities.

Experience has shown me that as an unemployed mental health service user, my application was not taken very seriously, partly because I am not one of the usual middle-class professionals who are considered to be a 'safe bet' by the medical professions.

Perhaps there will be some progress towards making PCT board lay members more representative when lay members constitute a majority on primary care trust boards.

Graham Stierl Vice-chair Having a Voice Manchester