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Asking new questions of new people - a blog by Becky Purvis, Director of Policy and Partnerships at the HRA

Last updated on 26 Jan 2023

Our Board and community members have agreed a new way to ensure more diverse people can feed into our decision making, with the creation of a ‘Community Committee’. This is a key part of our principle to include, so that health and social care research is done with and for everyone.

Our Director of Policy and Partnerships, Becky Purvis, blogs about why this is important.


If we always ask the same questions of the same people, we’ll keep getting the same answers. That’s why we’re changing the way we make decisions at the HRA so that we involve more people with different insights and perspectives.

In June 2022 we launched our new three-year strategy. A key principle of the strategy is about including more people in research – making sure research is done with and for everyone. But this is not just about us pointing to research teams and asking them to involve people more. To make the change we’re starting with ourselves.

We know that we can make better decisions by working with a diverse group of people with lived experience in our work. We also want to make sure that anyone who wants to get involved in our work, can get involved.

We started by asking people who have an interest in how we work for their thoughts on our assumptions – do you want more involvement in our decisions and are our proposals the right way to do this? What we heard was a strong ‘yes’ to setting up a new committee to advise our Board and for involving more people who don’t have professional expertise in clinical research or health or social care. Our next steps were to present what we heard to the HRA Board for their thoughts.

I am pleased to say that our Board welcomed and approved the proposals. In doing so, they reflected on the importance of thinking through how this Committee will work with the Board, including how Board itself might change the way that it approaches discussions to get the most value from this change so that we really can make better decisions by working in this way.

Our existing Community Insight Group has helped shape the proposals for the Committee and is helping us to establish it. The Insight Group will cease to exist when we establish the Community Committee and I want to take the opportunity now to say a huge thank you to its members, who have provided hugely valuable insights, ideas and reflections that have helped us to improve the way that we work with members of our Research Ethics Committee, our Confidentiality Advisory Group and members of the public who get involved in our work through our Public Involvement Network. It has also been a huge pleasure working with them and I hope it has been equally rewarding for them.

The work that they have led does not stop now. They have shaped an action plan to improve the experience of working with the HRA and ensure that it is open to everyone, which will be picked up by the new Committee. I also hope that some of them may consider extending their current terms to join the newly established Committee to help provide continuity. There will soon be an opportunity for new members to apply to be part of the Community Committee, so watch this space!

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Becky Purvis, Director of Policy and Partnerships

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