Dr Benedict Rumbold has been awarded a two year Wellcome Trust Society and Ethics Fellowship for a project titled "Patient and public involvement in priority setting: should we listen to the will of the people?".
Decision-makers tasked with allocating resources within health systems often face huge pressure about funding decisions from patients and the public, often described as lobbying. The project will provide a detailed philosophical analysis of how far decision-makers ought to respond to attempts by patient and public interest groups to influence priority setting decisions through lobbying and other forms of political pressure. The project will use an 'empirical ethics' approach, combining both philosophical analysis and qualitative research.
Starting from an assumption that citizens have a right to lobby, this research will be organised around the following questions:
1.What are the ethical grounds for citizens' right to lobby and what kinds of activity does it cover?
2. Do priority-setters have a moral obligation to respond to, or act upon, lobbying and other kinds of political pressure by patients and the public when making decisions about how to allocate health care resources?
3. What kinds of mechanisms and processes do UK priority setters need to put in place in order to ensure that what lobbying they receive is dealt with in a fair and equitable manner?
The project builds on the existing work of the UCL-KCL Social Values Group, and will be facilitated by the Philosophy Department and the Health Humanities Centre.