Research Rookie finds her feet with medication safety

26 Sep

by Faith Mann, member of the Greater Manchester PSTRC Research User Group, affiliated to Medication Safety theme

Faith Mann blog photo_Sept 14

“Why on earth am I doing this? Whatever possessed me to apply for this?” Those were some of the thoughts running through my mind as I prepared to attend my first meeting of the RUG back in May this year. After almost three years of blissful retirement with no deadlines to meet, no meetings to attend and no blogs to write, I began to question why I had signed up to take part in anything as structured and potentially demanding as the RUG appeared to be. Yes, I was interested in and committed to the concept of patient safety, but was this going to be a good use of my time, and could I really make a positive contribution to the work of the RUG?

Those doubts began to evaporate in the course of the meeting. The established RUG members warmly welcomed the three new members, of whom I was one, and the Chair of the meeting took the trouble to explain the background and import of some agenda items that would otherwise have been bewildering to a newcomer. Most importantly, the meeting ran to time! At the end of it I felt that I had gained a good understanding of the RUG and how it relates to the research themes and I was beginning to see how I could make a contribution to its work.

I was pleased to be aligned with the Medication Safety theme because some members of my family have suffered from mistakes in prescribing so I’m powerfully aware of the need for health professionals to maintain high standards in the prescribing and dispensing of medicines. Likewise, I believe that the patient has a responsibility to check prescriptions and to take medication according to the doctor’s or pharmacist’s instructions, so there is work to do from both the health professional’s and the patient’s perspectives.

There’s a lot happening in the Medication Safety research theme and I’m still in the process of getting to grips with it all but, already, I’ve been able to assist with identifying some patient focus groups to be interviewed for the research about their experiences with medication and I’m involved in the planning for an event that will highlight the issue of medication safety as part of the Manchester Science Festival. I feel that I have been welcomed by the research theme lead and the research assistants and that my perspective as a member of the public and occasional patient is valued by them.

It seems to me that PPI is still a fairly new concept to the NHS and is something that is put into practice to different degrees across the organisation as a whole. That’s one of the reasons why I applied to join the RUG in the first place – so that I could take part in the debate and help to develop a better understanding of the benefits of PPI and the opportunity that it presents for a true partnership approach between patients and health professionals which can only lead to better understanding between those groups and better outcomes for service users. I’m looking forward to the next couple of years to see how the RUG, of which I’m now a part, will influence health services across Greater Manchester, and possibly beyond.

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