Lay members of primary care group boards play a crucial role in ensuring that the views of local communities are taken into account, even though they are not community representatives, a Doctor Patient Partnership conference heard last week.
Delegates also heard a call from DPP chair Dr Simon Fradd for the formation of a national organisation for lay members.
Epping Forest PCG chair Sue Leggate, who is to be chair of the local primary care trust in April, said it was crucial for lay members to be empowered.
Ms Leggate said it would be a 'very sad PCT that lets it get to the final stage' of decision making before consulting lay members.
Liverpool health authority director of public health Dr Ruth Hussey said: 'I don't think the lay member on their own should be responsible for local involvement.'