Guest blog: Why I'm proud to be part of the Shared Commitment

Last updated on 19 Mar 2024

A guest blog from Douglas Findlay, NHS England's public representative, on being part of the Shared Commitment to Public Involvement and why he was drawn to the pledge's huge ambition. The blog was written to mark the second anniversary of the launch of the Shared Commitment.

Douglas Findlay

Douglas Findlay, NHS England Public Representative

When I was invited to join the Shared Commitment group, NHS England sent me the the usual partnership organisation profile. As I read it, I was immediately drawn to the huge ambition of the group and it resonated with me in two ways:

Firstly, with my personal understanding of how and why we should involve ordinary people in all aspects of publicly funded endeavours.

Secondly, my introduction to the world of public involvement in research started with someone asking me the simple question; “Would you like to help us to better understand how members of the public experience the Emergency Department at this hospital?

The following words appear on the landing page of theHRA’s webpage for the Shared Commitment:

'Public involvement is important, expected, and possible in all types of health and social care research. Excellent public involvement is integral to the design and conduct of health and social care research and it has been shown to improve its quality and impact'.

I reproduce these words here, as I believe that they are a true reflection of the ambition of a group of organisations who have, through hard work and a determined belief in the importance of public involvement, made this their mission.

The aim of developing the Shared Commitment is to ensure all health and social care researchers, regardless of their location or source of funding, receive a consistent message about the importance of public involvement.

Each partner organisation was asked to bring a team of people together at an initial meeting in September 2021 and we have since committed to providing guidance and support to researchers so that they can involve the public in line with the UK Standards for Public Involvement.

I was keen to join the Shared Commitment group as NHS England’s public representative, but I was unprepared for the sheer breadth, and depth of knowledge, alongside the experience and enthusiasm that the members brought to this mission!

The group is made up of:

Public Contributors, patients and members of the public who work alongside the host organisations in involvement and engagement with health and social care research, but are not employed by them.

Public Involvement leads, who are employed by the host organisations to lead their work on the involvement and engagement of patients and members of the public.

Communications and engagement leads, who are employed to support the active dissemination and mobilisation of this work.

Executive Sponsors, who are executive level staff who signed the Shared Commitment statement for their organisation and champion this work within their organisation’s board.

The group worked together to write the Shared Commitment statement which was jointly published on 11 March 2022.

NHS England formally became a member of the group in 2023, and these are the other members

It has been a joy to become a part of a group that focuses on the things that keep me involved as a public voice representative, such as a common focus on what matters to the public, learnings from initiatives other organisations have tried before, and of course, sharing how each of us navigated the Patient and Public Involvement pathway through their different organisations. It has also proved to be a rich vein of learning about the various ways involvement in research can be carried out to improve the lives of others.

The work has been progressing as the group grows and jointly agrees on how to fulfil the mission. The partner organisations are acting both individually and collectively to drive change and, as a partnership, we can raise the profile, value and importance of public involvement in health and social care research.

I see this as a vital part of what I believe public involvement in research should look like, so fully endorse the Shared Commitment group’s belief that:

'Excellent public involvement is integral to the design and conduct of health and social care research'.

Take a look and see for yourself! Why we launched the Shared Commitment

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