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Panels are made up of people who have experience and/or knowledge of a particular subject. They are used when specialised input from service users, clients and/or carers opinions are required. A series of questions and prompts are prepared in advance which a trained facilitator will use to capture and learn about the panel’s experience/knowledge of the topic area. The panel will debate and discuss various courses of action.

Small groups work best (8 -12) people. It is common for expert panels to meet four to six times a year.

PositivesNegativesWill deliverWill not deliverCase studies
  • Representative of target community;
  • Useful for sourcing views on resource allocation and priority setting;
  • Receive information on issues which should facilitate development of more considered views.
  • Motivation of panel members may be difficult to maintain;
  • The questions are set by decision-makers and not the participants;
  • Confidentiality may be difficult to ensure;
  • Can be time consuming and difficult to organise;
  • May be an issue about the type of people who tend to be recruited on to such panels, i.e. not the marginalised or excluded;
  • Panels may become stale if there are no mechanisms to facilitate turnover of membership.
  • User perspective;
  • Sounding board on which to test plans and ideas;
  • Relatively quick feedback;
  • Continuing dialogue with users.
  • Statistical information due to small sample.

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