Peter Bates > Service user and carer involvement in nurse education > Risk management and governance

Risk management and governance

Risk management

A standard framework for identifying and managing risk can be adapted for service user and carer involvement. This sets out the risks to students, service users and carers, staff and patients, and describes the actions taken to minimise these risks. It sets out the duty of care held by all stakeholders.


The term ‘governance’ is used here to refer to all the committees, panels and management teams that affect the process of nurse education. The name, structure and function of these groups varies from place to place. Some groups offer advice, others take serious decisions and yet more make plans for the future.

Such groups need a focus on technical expertise, and so include members with financial, educational and clinical skills; and also a focus on patient experience. For many groups, including service users and carers is a way to remain strongly focused on patient benefit as the driving purpose of all nurse education.

It is worth noting that involving people in formal governance roles can also enhance the status of service user and carer activities, as senior staff members publicly recognise its value. This can happen in other ways too. For example, at the University of Southampton, the service user and carer strategy contains a foreword written by the Dean of the University, at De Montfort University, the Head of School teaches on the Engaging Service Users module, and at the University of Central Lancashire, the Executive Dean asks for regular reports from the Comensus group.

The examples below show that universities have taken this agenda seriously and invited service users and carers to join some of the groups that share in governance of their activities. For some, this degree of involvement reaches beyond nurse education to University-wide governance arrangements. But before plunging into the list of examples, we might ask four questions:

  1. Are the right people involved? Sometimes, a ‘lay member’ is appointed, who provides a helpful external perspective but does not bring extensive lived experience as a service user or carer.
  2. Are people involved in the right groups? Some organisations have a lay Board member, but no involvement elsewhere.
  3. Are people involved in meaningful ways? Each group has an obligation to make reasonable adjustments to enable people who need support to participate. You can read more about this here.
  4. Are people connected to a broader constituency? We found that in one place, the Board member had no links to the service users and carers who contribute to the teaching and learning programme for nurses. However, we note that the same test must be applied to everyone who attends the group, rather than demanding that service users are networked but releasing others from this obligation.


Service users and carers sit on…

  • The Contract Monitoring Group at the University of Essex
  • The Course Management Committee at the University of Wolverhampton
  • The Curriculum Advisory Group at the University of Lincoln
  • The Curriculum Planning Committee at De Montfort University
  • The Curriculum Review Committee at the University of Hull
  • The Disability Advisory Group at the University of Central Lancashire
  • The Exam Board at the University of Surrey
  • The Faculty Board at Edge Hill University.
  • The Fitness to Practice Panel at Bucks New University, the University of Lincoln, De Montfort University and the University of Manchester
  • The Fitness to Proceed panel at the University of Lincoln
  • The Programme Board at Teesside University,
  • The Programme Committee at the University of Manchester
  • The Programme Planning and Revalidation Panel at Chester University
  • The Quality Committee at Leeds Beckett University
  • The Staff appointment panels at Northumbria University, Anglia Ruskin University, the University of the West of England and De Montfort University. Guidance on involving people in staff appointment panels is available here.
  • The Student Progression Committee at the University of Lincoln
  • The Validation Board at the University of Surrey, Canterbury Christchurch University, the University of Essex, the University of Southampton, De Montfort University and the University of Manchester.​