Become a CAG member

Last updated on 26 Jul 2023

Applications to become a CAG member aren't open at the moment, but if you'd like to register your interest for future recruitment rounds please email the CAG team.

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What does the CAG do?

The CAG is an independent body. It reviews applications for research purposes and provides expert advice on the use of identifiable patient information without consent to the Health Research Authority (HRA). CAG also provides advice to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care for non-research uses. Applications that are supported are legally allowed to use identifiable patient information without consent for specific purposes within defined parameters.

The key purpose of CAG is to protect and promote the interests of patients and the public, while making sure identifiable patient information is appropriately used for purposes beyond direct patient care.

The CAG is made up of volunteer members who give their time to make a difference. The work is varied but includes some of the biggest challenges we face in health and social care today, from cancer to dementia, and more recently COVID-19. CAG members are a mixture of experts (those with professional expertise as a health professional, in health research or information governance) and lay members (those with an interest in and experience of healthcare; as a patient, a service user or a carer) . Despite having different roles and experiences, all members have a shared goal: to ensure the use of identifiable patient information is in the public interest and used legally.

Your interests

To make a good CAG member your interests may include:

  • protecting patients and the public
  • health and social care research
  • appropriate use of identifiable patient information in health and social care
  • the way the health and social care system works, the information challenges and the broader political environment
  • developments in health and social care such as Artificial Intelligence
  • working with a group of members from a variety of backgrounds.

Skills required

You’ll bring lots of skills including the:

  • ability to read, understand and analyse complex issues in relation to accessing identifiable patient information without consent and weigh up conflicting opinions
  • ability to take an objective stance, looking at a situation from several perspectives
  • good communication skills and the confidence to voice your opinions
  • ability to work online, accessing and reviewing documents online and attending meetings virtually via Zoom.

The skills you will gain

Being a CAG member gives you lots of skills which can help in your career. These include:

  • an understanding of the health and social care system
  • an increased knowledge of how patient data is used within the health and social care system
  • an awareness of information governance considerations
  • an understanding of relevant legislation
  • enhanced committee skills: summarising, debating, evaluating and decision making.

What you will do as a CAG member

We need voluntary members who can commit to:

  • attend full CAG meetings virtually via Zoom. Meetings are generally held every other Thursday morning. We ask that members attend a minimum of seven meetings a year. Meetings last about three to four hours and require five to six hours of reading in preparation
  • take part in sub-committee work via email. This involves reviewing applications that share the same issues that have previously been reviewed by CAG or reviewing amendments to approved CAG applications. Sub-committee work is in addition to full CAG meetings. Members usually get involved in this approximately two to three times a year with three hours of reading for each sub-committee meeting
  • review applications and amendments electronically through our members’ portal or email
  • take part in induction training within your first six months of appointment, and equality and diversity training within your first year of appointment
  • attend two CAG ‘away days’ per year in London which is an opportunity to meet your fellow members and discuss and learn about important issues.

We offer a range of training some online, some face to face. If you attend a face to face training event, travel expenses will be reimbursed in line with the HRA committee members reimbursement of expenses guidance.

How do I get involved?

Make your application

You can apply easily and quickly by:

Please refer to the person specification when making an application: CAG member person specification

Find out more

Meet our CAG members

Our committees meet virtually, via Zoom. Our members join from the clinic, the office or their home. We can provide you with a mentor from CAG to support you during your first few months in your role.

Umar Sabat - CAG

“As an independent information governance (IG) expert I was drawn to the work the CAG do. Joining through the pandemic was incredibly fast-paced but it has been extremely rewarding because my knowledge of research processes has improved significantly. Being part of CAG has led to me be involved with various IG forums.”

Umar Sabat, Expert CAG member
Patrick Coyle

“I became involved with CAG and its predecessor organisation because I believe that patients must be able to trust health care staff to keep their personal information confidential. However, when it is necessary in the public interest for that personal information to be used for purposes other than their care, it is only done in a rigorously controlled way that protects their confidence.”

Patrick Coyle, CAG Vice Chair
Diana Robbins

“I was attracted to apply to CAG because of a long-standing interest in the involvement of ‘ordinary’ people in policy and practice. What made me stay was a ring-side seat at the development of fundamental changes in a policy context which affects the whole population.”

Diana Robbins, Lay CAG member
Harvey Marcovitch

“My experience as a medical academic journal editor left me with concerns that, despite best intentions, researchers were sometimes cavalier with patients’ or participants’ unconsented identifiable information. With the rapid advances in data linkages and public concerns about medical confidentiality, I consider it important that informed, independent scrutiny is needed to balance protecting patients’ and participants’ rights with supporting the public interest in the results of ethically approved research. CAG provides that scrutiny.”

Harvey Marcovitch, Expert CAG member
Tony Calland

“I became involved in the governance of confidential data to ensure that the balance between a confidential medical service and the appropriate use of medical records is open to public scrutiny, generates public confidence in the data use and is always in the interest of the wider public whilst using every technique to protect patient confidentiality.”

Tony Calland, CAG Chair

“The NHS has an enormous wealth of health data, we know that patients are generally very supportive of health research done for the right reasons but at the same time rightly expect that their data should be handled appropriately and securely and their confidentiality protected.

"Reviewing applications to ensure that these elements are respected and balanced is a fascinating and sometimes challenging task. Each application raises unique issues and the collaborative ethos of working on CAG has been a real pleasure. This has been one of the most intellectually challenging and rewarding roles in my years in healthcare.”

Martin Andrew, Expert CAG member
Sara Randall - CAG.jpg

“I spent much of my professional career collecting, analysing and thinking about data and the uses and abuses of data. In joining CAG as a lay member I welcomed the opportunity of participating in a different aspect of data exploitation. I have found my time in CAG fascinating in terms of exposure to the vast range of incredibly valuable health research which can be undertaken using NHS data whilst reflecting on all the safeguards which exist to respect the privacy and safety of all NHS users. I really like the feeling that, through being a member of CAG, I am contributing to securing everyone’s confidence in the integrity of research using their data.”

Sara Randall, Lay CAG member
Murat Soncul

“Membership of CAG has improved my understanding around how best to balance safeguards on confidential patient information disclosures, impact on individual’s privacy and data protection while enabling important life-saving research and audit to take place. As a professional member, it has given me a better understanding of the healthcare data sharing landscape, appropriate safeguards and ways to better use invaluable confidential patient data. It has been a rare experience to be so close to the public view and understanding in this area alongside some high-quality expertise in the HRA.”

Murat Soncul, CAG alternate Vice Chair

You can read our CAG member biographies here

Attend a CAG meeting to find out more

If you would like to come along to observe a CAG meeting you can do so easily by contacting CAG meeting dates can be found here.

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