Could you help the NHS by taking part in research?

9th Aug 2012

People with an interest in healthcare can take part in a research project aimed at helping maintain and improve standards across the NHS.

Patients, carers and the public are being asked to shape the study which is looking at how the Trust delivers its services.

Researcher Laura Lord, based at the University of Birmingham School of Health and Population Sciences, explained: “We want to open up our research to a wider audience through Public and Patient Involvement (PPI).

“Feedback from the people who have actually used each of the services we are studying will be invaluable to us. Ultimately, the people who get involved with the project will play an important role if redesigning services can provide better care.”

Laura is part of a collaborative research project funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), which brings together the University of Birmingham with its neighbouring healthcare providers.

The project is called the CLAHRC (Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care) and involves nine research projects, one of which (Theme 1) is looking at health service redesign.

As well as Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, the project involves Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which are also undergoing large-scale redevelopments.

The research project started in 2008 and runs until 2013. The work so far has looked at differences in approaches in the three trusts. The next stage involves interviewing patients, clinicians and gathering information about improvements being made in treatment for acute coronary syndrome; heart failure; emergency cholecystectomy; and for end-of-life care.

“Our PPI representatives can give as little or as much time as they can spare; attend meetings, read documents, talk to other patients or just provide feedback on their experiences,” said Laura.

“They will help us to shape the next stage of research and ultimately help to make NHS services better for everyone.”

Any patients, carers or members of the public who would like to be involved in the CLAHRC Theme 1 project should contact Project Officer Beatrice Gehr-Swain on 0121 414 9080 or email Expenses will be paid.
For further information about the research project go to:
Case study
Magdalena Skrybrant is a member of a Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) group set up to support a University of Birmingham/Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust research project looking at health service redesign. Here, she talks about her PPI role and the rewards it brings.

I first found out about PPI groups whilst I was sat in a hospital waiting room, flicking through a newspaper, just like the one you’re reading right now! There was a short advert inviting patients to become involved in a research project, which was being run by the University of Birmingham. After reading the advert, it didn’t take me long to decide that I wanted to be involved: I’ve got lots of experience as a patient, and I’d been looking for an opportunity to use my experience to benefit others. I sent a quick email to the project officer explaining my reasons for wanting to get involved and my experience, and I was delighted to learn that they wanted to have me on board.

It wasn’t long after I’d sent the email that I was invited to attend the first meeting.  About 10 PPI reps attended and we were introduced to the project team.

It was a friendly meeting (this was definitely helped by the provision of tea, coffee and biscuits!), and the project team explained to us more about the project itself and what our involvement would entail.  

We are a diverse group but I recognised early on that we’ve all got certain characteristics in common: patient or carer experience; enthusiasm; willingness to share ideas and experiences; and, most importantly, the desire to make a difference.

Our PPI group meets regularly (about once a month). We meet at the University of Birmingham and travel expenses are paid. We are also able to claim a small amount for attending the meeting.

Although members of the Project Team set up and attend our meetings, the PPI reps take it in turn to chair. Our meetings usually last about an hour and we always have a packed agenda!

We usually start off by discussing the progress of the research project and then we welcome a researcher to discuss the area they’re working on. This is our chance to put the patient view across. The researchers are always keen to hear what we have to say about their work and my experience is that they take our comments on board. 

I find it fascinating that PPI reps will come up with ideas and suggestions that researchers may not have even considered. Our PPI group is taken very seriously and, as the Project group are learning more about us, we’re becoming more involved in the project.

Being involved in the PPI group is really rewarding.  I find this is a great opportunity to put the patient perspective across in all areas of health care delivery.  Patients should have a say in how things are planned, how they are run, how services can be improved, and making sure that resources are used appropriately and effectively.

If, after reading this, you’re inspired, find out how you too can be involved. Contact:
Laura Lord, Research Assistant and PPI Lead: CLAHRC Theme 1 (Collaborations For Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care)
Tel: 0121 414 7868

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