This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Consultation on changes to the HRA Community Insight Group

Last updated on 8 Nov 2022

Executive summary

In our strategy Making it easy to do research that people can trust we have set out our ambition to make better decisions by working with a diverse group of people with lived experience and 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, the Confidentiality Advisory Group, and our Public involvement Network of people who have experience of, or have been impacted by, research.

We are also keen to ensure that there are appropriate ways for all the different groups of people that we work with – including researchers and research funders – to inform our decision-making.

This consultation sets out why we think this is important, makes some proposals for how we might improve how we do this, and asks for your views. It has been developed with the HRA’s Community Insight Group and we want to thank them for their time and expertise in helping us develop these proposals.

Your responses will inform a proposal that we will take to our Board.

Who should respond?

We want to hear from anyone who has an interest in how the HRA works. Including those who currently work with us, those who might be interested in doing so in future, those who use our services, and those who are interested in the conduct of research and the research environment.

Introduction and context what are we proposing and why? 

Our strategy sets out our ambition to make better decisions by working with a diverse group of people so that we can work to ensure that health and social care research is done with and for everyone.

We already have some mechanisms to do this. We currently work with a broad community of people who give their time generously, and in many cases freely. These include members of Research Ethics Committees, members of the Confidentiality Advisory Group, and members of the public who have chosen to join our Public Involvement Network of people who have experience of, or been impacted by, research and want to be involved in the work of the HRA.

In Spring 2021, we established the Community Insight Group so that the HRA could hear ongoing feedback from these community members, discuss ideas for how we can improve their experience, and to seek early reactions to relevant policy or service changes that will affect our community.

So far the group has:

  • overseen the development of an action plan to ensure that working with the HRA is a positive experience that is open to everyone
  • provided a forum for discussion of common questions and identifying areas that could be developed
  • made sure that issues important to our community are seen, heard and acted on.

The group has also valuably been involved in broader work to shape the way the HRA operates, such as our approach to marking our tenth anniversary, which has gone on to inform our strategy development. This has led us to a discussion about possible changes we can make to strengthen and broaden its role in our decision-making. This could help deliver some of the ambitions that we have set out in our strategy to:

  • make better decisions by listening to and involving a diverse group of people in our work
  • increase public involvement in how we make decisions.

Working with the Community Insight Group, we have developed proposed changes to the scope of this group, its role in HRA governance, and its membership, which we would now like your views on.

Your responses will inform a proposal that we will take to our Board.

People sitting on the wall of a house reviewing a survey

Broadening the scope of the group

The Community Insight Group currently focuses on how to improve the experience of being a member of the HRA Community – defined for these purposes as being a member of a Research Ethics Committee, of the Confidentiality Advisory Group or a member of the public.

At meetings of the group we hear ongoing feedback from its members, discuss ideas for how we can improve their experience, and seek early reactions to relevant policy or service changes that will affect our community.

We would like to broaden the scope of the group, so members are also asked for their views on how we run the HRA and the HRA’s activities more broadly.

This would help us deliver the ambition set out in our strategy to work with a diverse group of people with lived experience to help us make better decisions and increase public involvement in how we make decisions.

Broadening the scope would mean that the group could focus on both:

  1. How to improve the experience of being a member of the HRA Community (which is in the current scope), and​
  2. Views on how we run the HRA and the HRA’s activities more broadly (this would be new)​.

What do you think of this proposal to broaden the scope of the group?

The group’s role in HRA governance

The Community Insight Group currently provides a report to HRA Board meetings, helping ensure that issues that are important for our community are seen, heard and acted on.

We would like to increase the group’s role in HRA governance so that group members are a formal part of the HRA’s decision making processes.

The Community Insight Group considered a number of options for how to achieve this and supported a proposal to establish a Community Committee that advises the HRA Board.

This would continue to ensure (and grow) visibility of the community at Board level.

New policies or major changes to how the HRA is run, or the activities it undertakes, would be reviewed by the Community Committee, who would provide advice to the Board before it makes its decision. For example, the HRA has recently published its new three-year strategy. In this proposed structure, this would have come to the committee for advice before going to Board.

A Community Committee would sit alongside the Pay and Remuneration Committee and HRA Audit and Risk Committee in the HRA’s governance structures, see figure 1 below.

A move from a group to a formal committee would require a change to the HRA’s standing orders and new processes for appointing members. If enacted, the Community Insight Group in its current form will cease to exist and we will establish the Community Committee, inviting applications for new members. We will continue to work closely with the members of the Community Insight Group throughout this process and hope that some of them may consider extending their current terms to help establish the new Community Committee.

What do you think of this proposal to establish a Community Committee that advises the HRA Board in place of the current Community Insight Group? 

Governance structure.jpg
Figure 1: HRA governance structure Long description

Membership

The Community Insight Group is currently made up of members of Research Ethics Committees, the Confidentiality Advisory Group and members of the public, all of whom work closely with us in the delivery of our work.

This reflects the group’s initial focus on how to improve the experience of working with the HRA as a member of our community.

We are now proposing to broaden the scope of the group to cover all Board-level HRA decision-making.

There are other groups of people who have an interest in how the HRA operates and whose views and perspectives valuably inform HRA decision-making, including researchers, funders of research and organisations that work to improve the conduct of research and the research environment. They are part of the HRA’s wider community of stakeholders and there are a number of avenues by which the HRA gathers their insights and opinions. The Community Insight Group discussed whether individuals from these groups should also be invited to join the Community Committee.

They felt that a broad mix of perspectives would be really valuable, helping the HRA to listen to and involve a more diverse group of people in our work. But they also felt that there is value in restricting committee membership to people who work directly with the HRA to help us ensure that people can trust the research that we approve, as distinct from those who apply to HRA services for approval or work alongside the HRA on specific issues.

We are working to ensure that our community itself better represents the wider society that we serve, seeking to involve a diverse group of people.

Do you think that the Community Committee membership should include other groups of people - for example researchers or representatives from organisations that work to improve the conduct of research and the research environment?

or

restrict membership to people who work with the HRA as a member of our Research Ethics Committee, Confidentiality Advisory Group or members of the public who already work with us through our Public Involvement Network?

Our strategy sets out our ambition to increase public involvement in how we make decisions and listen to and involve a diverse group of people in our work. We learn from the experiences and expertise of ‘people in research’. But we also need to hear perspectives of people who are less familiar with the landscape or language of research. For this reason, we are particularly keen for half of the committee to be people who are not from health and social care or health research backgrounds. It is also really important to ensure that we hear from communities whose voices are seldom heard in health and social care research and we are working to ensure that the community that Committee members are drawn from better reflects these perspectives, and hope to work with the Committee to help us do this better.

We propose that the members of the new Community Committee should be made up of at least half people who do not have professional expertise in clinical research or health or social care. This includes people involved in or impacted by research who may work with us a part of our Public Involvement Network, and members of our Research Ethics Committees and Confidentiality Advisory Group who fit this definition (including many lay members and all lay plus members).

We have 785 REC members, 23 CAG members and a growing public involvement network of members of the public. If the Committee were to draw from existing HRA Community members, it might look something like this:

  • up to 10 members of Research Ethics Committees
  • up to 3 members of the Confidentiality Advisory Group
  • up to 5 members of the public who have experience of or have been impacted by health and social care research
  • up to 5 members of the HRA Board

Half of these people would not have professional expertise in clinical research or health or social care.

What do you think of this proposal for the Community Committee to be made up of at least half people who do not have professional expertise in clinical research or health or social care?

How to respond to this consultation

We want to hear from you!  Please complete our online questions (this should only take a few minutes) or email your thoughts to engagement.team@hra.nhs.uk by 4 December 2022.

Q1: Please tell us if you are a member of the public who is already a part of our Public Involvement Network, a Confidentiality Advisory Group member, or a Research Ethics Committee member (noting if expert, lay or lay plus), or a member of the public who has not yet been involved with the HRA. If you are not a member of the HRA Community, please tell us if you work for an organisation.

Q2: What do you think of the proposal to broaden the scope of the Group?

Q3: What do you think of the proposal to establish a Community Committee that advises the HRA Board in place of the current Community Insight Group?

Q4: Do you think that the Community Committee membership should include other groups of people - for example researchers or representatives from organisations that work to improve the conduct of research and the research environment?

or

restrict membership to people who work with the HRA as a member of our Research Ethics Committee, Confidentiality Advisory Group or members of the public who already work with us through our Public Involvement Network?

Q5: What do you think of the proposal for the Community Committee to be made up of at least half people who do not have professional expertise in clinical research or health or social care?

If you have any questions about this consultation, please contact engagement.team@hra.nhs.uk

Back to consultation on changes to the way our community is involved in our work

Shape the future of the HRA website.