So sang The Beach Boys who were on Radio 2’s ‘In Concert’ this week. Not that I’m a great fan but it seemed apposite given my week. This has involved visits to TrialReach, Oxford (well, virtually!) to discuss plans for public involvement in the Biomedical Research Centre there, my good colleagues at BioMedCentral and, tomorrow, Leeds (see below). To think I used to spend three weeks every autumn to attend the party conferences. It’s like regaining a bit of my life again.
But before I get into the meat of this blog, I just thought I’d draw your attention to a presentation on the ‘Caldicott2’ website (this is the review looking at information governance in the NHS including use of patient data for research purposes). Made by Dame Fiona Caldicott earlier this month it shares some early findings from the review and also shows the next steps for this important piece of work. Look under the Southern Informatics listing on this page.
I’m off to Leeds tomorrow to speak at an NIHR regional event – the first of four happening over the next few weeks – aimed at strengthening dialogue with NHS Trust R&D Managers against the background of much change in the NHS. I am looking forward to getting to know this audience better and hope that, during my small walk-on part, I can convey the important role they play in delivering research which will lead to better outcomes for patients. I think I am erroneously listed as ‘a patient’ on the programme and am wondering whether that means I take on the even more misleading definite article on the day, and am then definitive in every sense of that word thereafter. Let me worry about that one.
I notice that several organisations have been pushing out their responses to the NHS Commissioning Board Draft Mandate (it being the deadline). The King’s Fund document is compelling as ever although, as always after reading their documents, I felt a bit as if I should have taken that further degree after all. It has a strong statement on ‘shared decision-making’ which succinctly conveys what this should be in practice.
The Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) has joined forces with other research funders to put in a very comprehensive response focusing on the research and innovation objectives in the Mandate. Some good ideas in there including the point about better training for NHS staff on research, a point that was also made by Jonathan Sheffield (NIHR Clinical Research Networks) during The Guardian debate on innovation this week. It’s certainly true that if patients are to see choice become a reality in research we need to do much more to make sure that NHS staff are ‘research-aware.’ Meanwhile I thought Cancer Research UK’s response was helpful about ‘patient choice’ saying (briefly) what needs to happen to make it work and what they might be able to contribute. I think this is the key – organisations understanding that in this new environment what is pushed from the outside is going to be as, if not more, important, than what is put out from the centre. And I sometimes wonder whether the sense of shared responsibility has quite sunk in in some quarters.
Tangentally you might want to check out the blog I have written about patients and Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) for the Greater Manchester (AHSN) website. Last week at the INVOLVE annual symposium for members it was interesting to hear people talk about their different experiences of working with AHSNs. Helping support their work in trying to avoid groundhog day in these new organisations, is going to be a focus for the future I suspect.
This afternoon I tweeted about the national portal for people with dementia and their carers to register their interest in taking part in research and be informed about future trials. It is being developed by DeNDRoN and will be developed shortly. This really could be the most significant development in helping to nurture a research-active patient community since the Alzheimer’s Society set up QRD in the 90s. The opportunity of the PM’s Dementia Challenge to give it the best start in life should not be missed and I’m looking forward to chairing the public involvement group that is going to help guide the portal’s development.
Seem to be on the road a lot from next week as well and look forward to meeting people in Birmingham at the next NIHR Regional R&D Day, the Mental Health Research Network (MHRN) conference and other places. Reminds me I must buy Ben Goldacre’s new book to read on my travels. And this from the US Federal Drugs Administration today seemed relevant.