This week saw the launch of the NIHR Greater Manchester Primary Care Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (NIHR GM PCPSTR for short!), a partnership between the University of Manchester and Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust.
NIHR is funding the Centre – believed to be the only one of its sort in the world – to a tune of £6 million over five years. It follows also the establishment of the NIHR School for Primary Care Research (@NIHRSPCR) two years ago.
The Centre’s aim will be to ‘define, develop and test innovative ways of improving patient safety in primary care.’ Researchers and patients will focus on four key themes: medication safety; multi-morbidity; safety in general practice and; informatics. The evidence-base in each of these areas varies but is generally under-developed and this initiative will certainly help to turn the situation around I feel.
10% of the core budget for the Centre has been put aside to fund public involvement in the work there. That’s a clear vote of confidence in public involvement but also a recognition of the importance of empowering a strong patient partnership in the development of primary care patient safety.
A Research Users Group (RUG) has been established with a number of meetings already under its belt. Its Chair will sit on the Centre’s Board. Patients and the public will also be able to work with the Centre through its ‘Associate members’ and ‘Friends of..’ schemes that will be set-up in due course. The commitment of the Centre’s Strategy Group, Board and staff to PPI can be in no doubt.
Speaking briefly at the launch on Wednesday I said I hoped that the Centre would mean three things for patients: a fusion of good ideas from patients and GPs and the development of evidence to support their wider adoption in the NHS; the development of a network of organisations increasingly aligned around a shared vision of patient safety in primary care and; closer-working between patients, researchers, GPs and primary care staff.
Fact is that I think there are many straightforward and practical things we can do to make primary care safer and for patients. As an aside, I had a long conversation with colleagues attending the event about the problems that arise in terms of people’s discharge from hospital simply because of the way information is passed on by hospital staff to a patient’s GP (i.e. consultants not following a standard format for discharge letters and putting their recommendations at the end of their letter rather than at the beginning!). But other areas such as medication concordance (how to ensure you and I take the medicines we are supposed to in the way that we should) are more intricate and it will be more challenging to change practices, systems and behaviours.
I hope and believe that the Centre will give this agenda the momentum it needs.
Declaration: I am on the Executive Management Board of the Centre