Our Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) activities took a huge leap forward earlier this month with the first meeting of PAIR – our Patients Active in Research group – that will guide our work.
I say the first meeting… this was actually a one-off in that it was a chance to meet the 10 patients who have volunteered to join the group, recruited through posters across Oxfordshire, the internet, an article in the Oxford Times, a public talk and liberally distributed flyers. Future PAIR meetings will unite these patients and carers with the researchers and medical staff who comprise the other half of the group, and will be co-chaired by a professional and lay member.
We wanted to get diverse membership, and there they were, young and…a little older, men and women, patients and carers, some who knew the research world well and others for whom this was a first foray.
Their motivations ranged from wanting to help ensure research money is well spent to “just curious” and each one was inspiring in their enthusiasm and insight. I much look forward to working with them to bring the patient and carer voice to the strategy of the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).
This will in turn help us to support PPI activities within our research themes and our sister biomedical research unit as they increasingly involve patients throughout their research cycles, planning what to do and how to do it.
There are three immediate next steps for PAIR. Firstly, helping us refine and progress plans for a website, developed with and for patients, enabling them to find opportunities for research involvement across the Thames Valley.
Secondly, working with us to understand, through the patient prism, the requirement of all Biomedical Research Centres to “provide a key component of the NHS contribution to our nation’s international competitiveness”.
This piece of work, a first for any BRC or BRU, will get to the heart of how patients want us to develop and deliver on our commitment to working with commercial partners such as the drug industry.
And thirdly, rounding up all our PPI activities, helping us ensure that our emerging PPI strategy – a plan that will take us to the end of this BRC phase in 2017 – is right for patients and carers.
There’s a lot going on, and we are delighted to have such strong new voices to guide us.