Few public bodies actually use the results of public consultation to inform decisions about changing services, according to a study published yesterday by the Audit Commission.

It found that the quality of individual consultation exercises was patchy and some organisations, including health authorities, use consultation techniques that allow 'unrepresentative but articulate groups to dominate'.

To get the best out of the system, the Audit Commission recommends that consultation should be linked to decisions, be designed, carried out and analysed competently and involve all sections of the community.

Any changes should be fed back to local people so that they can see that the results of the consultation made a difference.

Listen Up! : effective community consultation.

Audit Commission Publications, 0800502030.£15.