Forgive me. For once, I write with a semi-official hat on. But this afternoon feels like a bit of a milestone moment in lifting public involvement in research ever higher on people’s agendas.
If you have heard me speak in public then you will know I start by saying how proud I am that the UK is a world-leader in public involvement in health research. Also, that I am proud that NIHR, a publicly funded body, working with patients and the public, has been at the forefront of making this happen.
Few other nations have a Government-sponsored body for public involvement in research like our very own INVOLVE. No one has embedded the ethos of public involvement in how we design, deliver and disseminate research to the extent that we have. And on a national scale.
The Scandinavians have a better notion of citizenship maybe. The Americans can throw lots of money at it (possibly too much). Holland is not far behind. The Canadians are realising something similar. But no one comes close to us in reality. It is both to our credit and to our competitive advantage.
Above all it is to the credit of the citizens, patients, public, service users – call them/us what you will – who have made this happen and who constantly challenge the system to improve. And it can improve there is no doubt – I am not trying to hide it in the positive glow I feel this afternoon.
But the fact that the National Institute for Health Research’s (NIHR) latest annual report published today opens with an extensive chapter on ‘patients and the public’ speaks volumes: politically and practically. This is one of the largest funders of health research in the world and patients and the public are increasingly part of the team. The report is packed with examples of how public involvement is making a difference to the work of NIHR and to the health of the population.
Quite simple the message is this, when it comes to public involvement, NIHR means business.
Roll on the next chapter.