A lay member view – NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC Away Day 2016

11 Nov

by Angela Ruddock, member of the NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC’s Governance Research User Group (RUG)

greater-manchester-pstrc-away-day-circle

I and three other lay members of the Research User Group, David, John and Kay, attended the recent NIHR Greater Manchester PSTRC Away Day.

I have to say that I was not keen about the prospect of being ‘holed up’ for two days (well, an evening and a day) with a group of academic researchers.

This is no offence to researchers (!) but I confess that after many years of working in both an NHS Trust and a University environment, I was regrettably turning into a hardened old cynic when it came to these so-called ‘bonding’ sessions.  However, I can safely say that I found myself enjoying the sessions on the day.

The evening before the sessions gave me an opportunity to have some completely off the wall conversations with 2 or 3 people I did not know that well and probably had not spoken to before although I had heard them present research projects over the year. The subject matter was in fact not about research but about Prince the singer who was found dead that morning. We got into a conversation about rock stars who had made an impression on us. It turned out to be a pretty good if a bit sad leveller.

The main business commenced 9.30 the following morning with a presentation from Stephen about the James Lind Alliance, its role and its purpose. It was useful for me in appreciating the input that we as part of the PSTRC- Research User Group can make in improving communication, exchanging views and contributing the patient/public perspective in the debate about priorities.

It was really good to hear in the second and third presentations how the work of the PSTRC has had an impact on a wide range of clinical issues from mental health issues such as suicide prevention to multi medication prescribing. What particularly interested me was how many of the tools used in these research projects could be used in a variety of practical settings, for instance by GP practices, in identifying where their own Practice is in relation to others on a particular patient safety issue, by  Clinical Commissioning Groups in identifying particular areas  of concern in Greater Manchester and to share good practice or, as a final example, by pharmacists in recording and identifying where there may be particular concerns relating to certain prescribed medications when combined with others.

The only area I felt could further benefit from exploration was the patient/lay contributor input in terms of more qualitative data in some research areas and perhaps more ideas in identifying a diversity of lay input (but I would say that wouldn’t I!). I think my colleagues John and Kay from the discussion groups were well able to contribute to this area and give some clear views about added value from a patient/public perspective.

In summary I admit that I wrongly prejudged the significance of the opportunity to get into some real and practical conversations with the research teams and am convinced that it helped me understand better the issues and dilemmas facing them.  Hopefully they also had an understanding of our perspective and are more able to shape the projects in more rounded way as a result.

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