The first email came in on Wednesday at 0.04, from the BRC Director: our BRC has been awarded new funding of almost £114m over the next 5 years. In parallel, the Oxford Health BRC gets £12.8m to support research into mental health and dementia. The total NIHR award to Oxford thus stands at £126m – a 20% increase on the last five years. You can see BRCs across the country here.
Never have I known one email unleash such a flood of congratulations, enthusiasm and relief: by 7am, 20 people had replied to the round robin; the rest of the day was peppered with messages, of encouragement, support, and at least three of cake.
The hard work of getting the bid in will now switch to planning how existing and new themes will collaborate in clusters, and of course what this means for PPI. More of that here soon – and rest assured, this won’t be me and my colleagues thinking up what PPI means for us: as for our strategy, and in the years since we launched it, plans for the future will be devised with, not for, patients and the public.
While this is all good news, my thoughts have also recently been focused on the challenges of PPI, especially persuading clinicians to engage with it, and do it. I was asked to write a blog for the Royal College of Physicians on this topic, to run in parallel with their co-hosting a Twitter chat on involving patients in clinical research.
You can read it here so I won’t say much more, except that as ever I tied myself slightly in knots thinking about whether what we need with PPI is evidence that it “works”(I won’t go down the path of asking “whatever that means?” right now), or just to get on and do it because it’s so obvious. Indeed, a better woman than me is repeatedly quoted as saying pretty much this, as I wrote in the last paragraph of the blog, and it’s not a bad lesson to live by as Oxford looks ahead to the next five years:
…As the PPI machine grows, we do need better evidence for its impact, and – crucially, but it remains challenging – to systematically record what we do. But just as we leap to quote Dame Sally that ‘No matter how complicated the research or how brilliant the researcher, patients and the public always offer unique, invaluable insights’ without demanding ‘show us your evidence,’ surely some things just ‘are?’ Among these, that research is enriched by involving those it professes to help.