It’s time to talk about ‘cutting edge’ public involvement and engagement in the same breath as world-class health research #NHSResearch

Yesterday the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) announced more than £800 million funding for 20 Biomedical Research Centres.

These will conduct ‘cutting edge research’ – everything from cancer and dementia to the rarest of diseases. It is brilliant news for patients and the future health of the nation.

Each of the applications from the new centres had to include a public involvement ‘PPI’ plan. Every application was reviewed by patients and the public. By all accounts many got stiff questioning on the topic at interview stage. The successful applicants must now produce a robust ‘PPI’ strategy for what happens next.

I tell you this because it’s important to recognise the extent to which public involvement is embedded into the NIHR’s process for awarding funding. Show me another funder around the world that does it to this extent or to this scale. You can’t actually.

But there’s another thing. Over the last four years I’ve been to many of the current NIHR biomedical research centres and units.

The staff leading the public involvement and engagement work in these places – in mutual partnership with patients, carers and members of the public – are doing wonderful things. From helping to design novel ways of engaging diverse communities. To involving people in the analysis and use of their own data. Collectively across the BRCs we are developing a very important group of people who are at the….’cutting edge’ of what they do.

There’s that word – ‘cutting edge’ – again. When I looked at yesterday’s brilliant announcement and the list of diseases that will be looked at I couldn’t help but feel ‘public involvement and engagement’ should have been noted across the board.

When you next get to review or comment on an announcement from your research team, organisation or institution about what it’s doing don’t forget to shout: ‘Hey, hang on, we need to mention public involvement in the same breath.’ For I can assure you that our research colleagues don’t hold back about their work.

We are good at what we do and getting better at it all the time. Let’s make sure others sit up and take notice.

Have a good day.

Simon Denegri
Sent from my Work iPhone
You can also find me at:
Twitter: @SDenegri

2 thoughts on “It’s time to talk about ‘cutting edge’ public involvement and engagement in the same breath as world-class health research #NHSResearch

  1. Thanks Simon for sharing these thoughts – much appreciated. I have two initial questions.

    1. Is patient and public involvement an enabler or an outcome?
    If we treat patient and public involvement as an enabler or value driver, then the journey ahead is very different compared to treating it like an outcome in itself. Is there are a very established NIHR position on this?

    2. How have you analysed ‘cutting edge-ness’ of patient and public involvement practices in the NIHR community?
    Has it been possible to analyse data and metadata for patient and public involvement practices across NIHR for the last few years to give a starting point for all of the plans you mention?

    I would really appreciate the chance to discuss.


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