Tag Archives: Greater Manchester PSTRC

A New Approach to Governance – Non-Executive Lay Members on the Greater Manchester PSTRC Executive Management Board

17 Jan

by Dave Edwards

  • Lay Non-Executive Member of GM PSTRC EMB
  • Lead Governor, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust
  • PPI Participant in Research – UoM Division of Cardiovascular Sciences/Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust
  • OUTREACH Trial Steering Committee Member – MAHSC @ The Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust



For the latest embodiment of the Greater Manchester PSTRC, it was decided to enhance the governance of the Centre by adding a lay dimension to the process. The intention is to broaden the accountability of the Centre by providing a challenging influence at Executive Board level which is not motivated purely by the academic and research aspects of the group, rather by an independent or external view of the workings of the Centre. Assurance on features such as budget, timeline & milestones, adherence to the Centre’s primary brief and purpose and its actual achievements can thus be measured in a more rounded way.


As a result, the position of non-executive lay board member has been created, with the intention of having two such people on the EMB.

Benefits to the Centre

With a lay aspect applied to the governance of the Centre, the following challenges, amongst others, can be more objectively presented during the assurance seeking process at management board meetings:

  • Is the Centre fulfilling its general brief?
  • Is the programme of events going to plan?
  • Do any methods or processes need considering for modification in any way?
  • Are the ongoing activities proving to be appropriately relevant?
  • Are any ‘spin-off’ benefits being realised?
  • Is the Centre performing in accordance with the designated budget?
  • Is the Centre performing such that its reputation will generate further opportunities?

Bearing in mind the above, it seems reasonable to expect the Centre to operate in a more direct and effective way, which will in turn improve the outcome and enhance the experience of not only those participating directly in the research themes but also those managing and supporting the venture.

Benefits to the Lay Non-Executives

As far as the non-executive lay board members are concerned, I see the satisfaction of taking on a challenge, contributing to the success of the Centre and widening one’s experience as providing good enough reason for becoming involved. Moreover, meeting the wide range of people involved in carrying out the role is a bonus to me.

Get Involved!

18 Dec

We are currently looking for people to get involved in our research by becoming a Core or Associate member of our Research User Group (RUG).


As a Greater Manchester-wide centre, we are keen to reach as many people as possible with our work and involve both patients and members of the public from the area. 

As well as our patient populations, we are particularly keen to reach people working in primary care (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, practice staff etc) and those who work in or have a specialist interest/knowledge in patient safety or research.

Our Research User Group (RUG) was established to work in partnership with the research teams, advising or assisting with research developments, and consists of:


Associate Members of the RUG

As well as receiving the regular newsletters, our Associate Members meet annually.  They will be actively involved in one (or more) of the research projects.  We are currently accepting applications for Associate membership, please see our website for further details.

Core Members of the RUG

The core group consists of ten members who meet every six weeks.  The elected Chair sits on the Executive Management Board.  Members are aligned to one of the research themes to ensure involvement sits at the heart of each research project and to help develop further ways to involve members of the public.


We are currently looking for a number of new members to join the core RUG.  You will need to use NHS primary care services (GP surgeries or pharmacies) in Greater Manchester, have a keen interest in health research and be able to commit to regular meetings (fees and expenses will be reimbursed).


For more information and to download as application pack for either Associate or Core membership, please visit our website.

16 went to Qatar…

24 Feb

by Rebecca Morris, Research Fellow for General Practice theme in the Greater Manchester PSTRC

Qatar blog photo_Feb15_resized

Recently I was lucky enough to be invited to a British Council funded Researcher Links workshop in Doha, Qatar to discuss some shared research interests in long term condition management for both physical and mental health issues. The workshop was organised by Professor Karina Lovell (Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care – Greater Manchester patient-centred care theme lead and Director of Research, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work) and Professor Richard Gray (Assistant Executive Director of Research and Professor of Health Services Research at Hamad Medical Corporation).

Qatar is the world’s richest country per capita with a diverse population made up of Qatari nationals (approximately 278,000 people) and an increasing migrant worker population (approximately 1.5 million people) from around the world. Whilst Arabic is the official language in Qatar, people also speak Urdu, English, Hindi, Tamil, Nepali and many other languages which creates challenges in the delivery of care.

The Primary Care system is also very different to the system in the UK, with the majority of people in Qatar opting to visit the Emergency Department instead of a GP equivalent. This poses many questions for some of the key patient safety issues that are a focus of our work in Greater Manchester PSTRC around medication safety, diagnostic opportunities and long term condition management.

We were a truly multi-disciplinary group with clinicians, social scientists, health services researchers and even an architect. This made for very interesting discussions about the different pieces of the jigsaw we all contribute to in developing patient-centred healthcare system.

The workshop had a mix of group sessions and presentations on a variety of topics including Patient and Public Involvement, Improvement Science, and the Qatar health system as well as a writing masterclass by Professor Roger Watson (Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Advanced Nursing). Bravely people also presented their research using the PechaKucha presentation style (a presentation is 20 pictures long and you have 20 seconds per picture- no slides, graphs or text allowed! It made for a memorable experience and an engaging move away from the classic PowerPoint presentation).

To end our brief time in Qatar, the British Embassy hosted a reception where all the participants of the workshop and members from local health organisations were able to share ideas and experiences. It was a fantastic opportunity, we learnt a lot from each other, had a lot of fun, did a lot of work and are now developing future applications together to explore some of the ideas that we generated in the workshop. Many thanks to everyone who was involved and organised it!

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.

It’s not just about persuading girls to follow careers in science but keeping them there and returning them after career breaks

1 Aug

by Jill Stocks Research Fellow in Core theme of the Greater Manchester PSTRC


It’s a great aim to encourage girls to follow a career in science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) but are we forcing them to ultimately make a choice between a career and family? A female STEM researcher is most likely to be lost during the transition from PhD to research around the time they start a family. Women can become discouraged; they find research too adversarial, the difficulties of combining career and family daunting and the lack of role models isolating.

The Daphne Jackson trust is a leader in the arena of returning people to careers in STEM following a break for family or health reasons and of course, that applies to men equally as women. Indeed in the words of Professor Athene Donald “…it is important to move towards the position where families feel children are a joint responsibility and not just a problem for women

I am a former Daphne Jackson Fellow and I imagine my story is typical. I was working as a post-doctoral scientist then along came a family. Perhaps if I had had just one child a nursery place would have been affordable but with 3 children and a post-doctoral salary it was impossible. Indeed I remember looking at the staff childcare rates at a university nursery and thinking “well that’s the end of my career”. My friend, also previously a post-doctoral chemist, was working in Tesco in the evening and that seemed to be the limit of what I could expect. As the children grew I knew I must make some sort of life for myself but what can a scientist with no experience or publications in the past 5 years do? Then a helpful person told me that there were fellowships for people to return to science. A search on the internet soon revealed the Daphne Jackson Trust website and from that moment the DJT supported and encouraged me in returning to a career as a scientist.

Now I work in the Greater Manchester PSTRC who are sponsoring and recruiting a Daphne Jackson Fellow. I would like to help somebody return to a career in STEM. If you are wondering how to get back to work in STEM research we love to hear from you.

Ancient Egypt and the ‘hierarchy of evidence’

30 Jun

by Jonathan Stokes, PhD student in Multimorbidity theme


One of the first things you learn when training in any sort of biomedical research is the ‘hierarchy of evidence’ (picture above), what counts as the ‘best’ type of evidence in our field. As you can see from this pyramid, randomised controlled trials (RCTs) – where a population is randomly split into two or more groups, an intervention is carried out on one, and the other acts as a ‘control’; results look at the difference between the two groups after a period of time – are at the very top (not counting ‘Systematic reviews’ which are simply compilations of many studies from the lower points of the pyramid). RCTs work so well, and are rated so highly in the hierarchy, because by definition and set-up they control for as much variation as possible. They control for variation both between the two groups involved, as well as between the settings they are subjected to. This is great from a statistical point of view, but stripping context and the variation naturally found in any population between individuals gives us extremely unnatural results i.e. the interventions assessed in this way don’t work in the same way when these are used in the much more complex, real world. And this is especially true when we look at more and more complex interventions e.g. integrated care, for more and more complex patients with multimorbidity – you can find more details on this specific issue in my personal blog page here. Not only do RCTs apply only incompletely to the actual context they’ll be used in, but they also cost an absolute fortune, and take years to do properly. Not always the most practical solution perhaps, particularly in assessing an intervention which has particularly low risk of harms for instance. This lack of real-world applicability can be a real problem, especially when working in a ‘translational’ research centre, where we try to focus on crossing the ‘translational gaps’ between evidence and actual practice. Surely, we want to create evidence here which applies and can be used in the ‘real world’. For this reason, I’d argue that the age old ‘hierarchy’ of evidence in biomedical research is as outdated as its architectural equivalent of the ancient Egyptians. By no means am I arguing not to use RCTs under any circumstances by saying this! RCTs are a great source of evidence in the appropriate circumstances, and for example, I wouldn’t want to be taking any medicine that hadn’t been thoroughly tested with one. But, we need to move away from the simplistic attitude that our evidence can sit neatly in a hierarchy. For starters, look how low down experiential, person-centred, qualitative evidence sits. This is an important area of understanding for the type of care we want to provide to patients! We have a new ‘multimorbidity’ disease paradigm. Our health system needs to adapt to this, and so does our research. Particularly in a time where budgets are being squeezed, if we can save money on a completely inappropriate RCT here and there, for instance, and can instead put some of the abundant routine data we have lying around to good use, we shouldn’t be afraid to do so because of some ancient paradigm.