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Making better decisions a blog by Becky Purvis, Director of Policy and Partnerships

Last updated on 7 Nov 2022

We want to involve you in the HRA to help us to make better decisions and ensure that health and social care research is done with and for everyone. We need your views to help us to decide the best way to do this. Our survey runs for four weeks from 7 November to 4 December.

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

We all know that we can make better decisions by working with a diverse group of people – asking one person the best way to cook eggs will give you one answer, but asking five people will give you five different perspectives, and might just encourage you to try something new (scrambled tofu anyone?). This is why in our strategy Making it easy to do research that people can trust we have set out our ambition to do just this.

We want to make better decisions by working with a diverse group of people with lived experience and by making sure that anyone who wants to can get involved.

To help us deliver this, we are going to:

  • increase public involvement in how we make decisions;
  • listen to and involve a diverse group of people in our work.

One of the ways that we can do this is by improving how we involve people who already work with us in our decision making. Lots of people give their time generously, and in many cases freely, to work with us as members of Research Ethics Committees and the Confidentiality Advisory Group and as part of our Public Involvement Network of people who have experience of, or have been impacted by, research. We cannot do anything without them and working with them helps us to continually do our job better. Their independent contribution to our work helps us to earn people’s trust. We must listen to them and act on what they tell us.

In 2021, we set up a Community Insight Group made up of people from these groups to help us better understand what it is like working with us and how we can make this a more positive experience that is open to everyone. This last part is important – we can only hear from diverse voices if we make it possible for them to work with us and ensure that, if they give us their time, it will make a difference. Together we have created an action plan, which we are now working together to deliver.

We are now proposing that this Group takes a more formal role in our governance as an advisory Community Committee. It would have a remit to review new policies or changes to how the HRA is run, or the activities it undertakes to inform our Board’s decisions. This would better reflect the importance of our Community and ensure that many more diverse voices are heard in our decision making. That would mean lots more perspectives helping us to change how we do things, so we might even consider trying scrambled tofu.

One of the other important proposals is to ensure that the voices from our community that sit on the Committee bring a range of perspectives, which is why we are proposing that half of those sitting on the Committee should not have any professional expertise in clinical research or health or social care. They might be members of our Research Ethics Committees, Confidentiality Advisory Group or part of our Public Involvement Network, but rather than professional experience they will bring something else. They may have experience of research as a patient or carer, but they won’t have been or be a doctor or a nurse. Or to stretch my eggs analogy a little too far, they won’t be professional chefs.

We have worked with the Community Insight Group to develop these proposals and are now consulting on them. We’d love to hear what you think.

You can read the proposals, see the questions and read the background to this work on our website. The consultation will run until 4 December 2022, you can share your thoughts on our proposals in our online form.

Once we have got your thoughts, we’ll develop some proposals to go to our Board.

If you have any questions, do get in touch by emailing engagement.team@hra.nhs.uk

Becky Purvis.jpg

Becky Purvis, Director of Policy and Partnerships at the HRA.

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