Representatives should also be given administrative support to help them carry out the role and a clear job description, it argues.
But the GPC warned that paying patients to take part could lead to people applying for the wrong reasons.
Together with 20 CCGs, the Patients Association has developed 10 recommendations on how patients should be involved in commissioning.
In a report setting out its advice, the association said commissioners should be proactive in seeking out public views on key issues.
The document also advises groups to embed patient engagement in all levels of the commissioning process and to establish indicators against which performance on engagement can be judged.
Commissioning groups must demonstrate how they will inform local people of any changes to services and how and publish patient feedback on services, the report says.
'Any action taken or not taken as a result of this feedback should be reported and justified to the public in a transparent and easily understandable format.'
GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said it was 'very variable' as to whether reimbursement was available for patient representation work
He believes patient representatives should not be out of pocket. 'Anyone involved with a CCG should not be doing it at their own expense,' he told GP.
However, he warned that issues of payment beyond expense reimbursement would require contractual agreements and complicate arrangements.
Dr Vautrey believes proper reimbursement could help encourage a wider pool of patients to become involved in commissioning.
But he added: ‘We need to avoid people applying because they are paid.’
Patients Association recommendations
1. CCGs should undertake active engagement with the public when determining the local public’s healthcare needs and planning or designing new pathways or services.
2. CCGs should use effective local engagement structures and other channels to actively connect with a diversity of groups including community networks, local authorities, Healthwatch and third sector groups.
3. Members of the public involved in commissioning should be offered training and a role profile so that they understand the issues being discussed, the processes and procedures, and so can engage fully.
4. CCGs should involve the public in the development of the CCGs’ public engagement strategy.
5. The CCGs’ public engagement strategy should define Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for public engagement which must demonstrate how they support the KPIs defined for commissioning.
6. CCGs must demonstrate how they will communicate with the local population on a regular basis to inform them of any changes to services and how they will actively gain and publish patient feedback on the services they are providing.
7. There must be public representation at every level of the commissioning process within the CCG.
8. There must be a clear accountability structure for public engagement within the CCG and this must be defined in the CCG’s governance.
9. CCGs must be transparent; keeping accurate records of previous actions, publishing their findings and reporting back to patients how they have decided to action feedback or recommendations and clearly outline the reasons behind this.
10. CCGs are accountable to the NHS Commissioning Board, HealthWatch and health and wellbeing boards.