Archive | October, 2013

First time in the hot seat…

28 Oct

by Ailsa Donnelly, Chair of the GMPSTRC Core RUG IMG_3069_Ailsa Donnelly_cropped_3 My first meeting as Chair of the RUG and I wasn’t just nervous, I was terrified!  Whatever had possessed me to apply?  What did I think I could bring to a RUG with such diverse strengths, expertise and experiences? A pre-meeting with Cara, the Vice Chair, showed she was supportive, sensible and very enthusiastic; Philip and Stephen were encouraging too.  Phew!  It was time to take a deep breath and get on with it. I can’t remember my exact words, but I hope I said how honoured and privileged I felt to be elected as first Chair, and thanked everyone for their vote of confidence.  Our first challenge was to align 2 RUG members to each theme.  An hour was allocated for this, but to our amazement (and my immense relief) it was all described, debated and decided within 15 mins.  We were off to a flying start! In the resulting ‘bonus’ time we discussed general RUG-relevant issues, including what lay people can offer.  Looking round the table, I was struck by what a wonderfully mixed group we were, ranging from those with an established track record in research to ‘grass roots’ patients and carers who were completely new to it  and so bring perhaps the most valuable contribution of all, fresh eyes and questions.  The RUG and the research team all share the same aim, safer primary care, but we may differ radically about how to achieve it.  RUG members have a vital role as ‘critical friends’ – if something doesn’t feel right to us, as patients, then we must say so.  Meetings between RUG members and researchers are discussions between experts coming from different areas of expertise and both sides need to remember and respect that. I am enormously encouraged that the RUG has been planned right from the start as an integral part of the research team.  Good public involvement needs commitment from both sides, from researchers as well as the public.  As RUG members we must now play our part in making our involvement meaningful.  We can do this by responding actively to every invitation to participate but also, equally important, by pro-actively suggesting ideas to the researchers (I do love the phrase ‘patient-inspired research’!).  Doing this will help us to shape the research so it is relevant to everybody and leads to our ultimate goal, safer patient care. Onward and upward!