Regional network championed in response to key public involvement report

CLAHRC NWC brought together a collaboration of key stakeholders involved in public and patient engagement and involvement across the North West, in response to the NIHR “Going the Extra Mile” report.

The North West regional event was initiated as a consequence of the “Breaking Boundaries” strategic review of public involvement, the report sets out its recommendations for the next ten years to improve the nation’s health and wellbeing through public involvement in research.

Over 60 guests gathered to hear Dr Paula Wray, Senior Public Involvement Manager of INVOLVE, discuss how to interpret the report and the practicalities involved in implementing it in attendees’ respective North West organisations. Other speakers focused on the principles of the report, asking for teamwork on the day to examine these in small groups. Speakers included Dr Bella Starling, Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow, Dr Lucy Frith, Public Involvement Specialist Adviser of NIHR Research Design Service NW and Dr Andy Gibson, Associate Professor in Public Involvement in University of West of England.  Other talks came from the CLAHRC NWC itself, namely its Director Professor Mark Gabbay and Jenny Irvine, Public Engagement Facilitator who initiated discussions about the value of a regional strategic network to support some report recommendations.  

Attendees from the North West included CCGs, Councils, Research Design Services and NHS Foundation Trusts, Greater Manchester Academic Health Science Network and Clinical Research Network, CLAHRC NWC Partners and PhD students, Liverpool, Lancaster and Manchester universities, North West People in Research Forum, charities and local PPIE organisations.

Jenny Irvine of CLAHRC NWC commented; “So many of us within the North West have shared PPIE objectives both within and outside of the Going the Extra Mile report. By creating a network, we’ll be well placed to decide how we will tackle some of these together and what will work for this unique region which has a strong culture of public involvement. I look forward to seeing this grow and develop and us being a part of something exciting with our North West colleagues." 

Second learning exchange takes place between CLAHRCs

Members of the public involvement teams of CLAHRC South West Peninsula (PenCLAHRC) and CLAHRC NWC met up to share their latest innovation and ideas in Lancaster and build on the relationship that started in 2015.
Public and patient involvement has been central to how PenCLAHRC operates, which is why it was one of the first CLAHRCs to establish a ‘purpose-built’ PPI forum – the Peninsula Patient and Public Involvement Group (PenPIG). PenPIG members travelled North to mirror a visit that happened last year when theme managers, public advisers and public involvement leads from CLAHRC NWC visited their offices in Exeter.
The latest exchange visit offered opportunities to discuss how the CLAHRC NWC public reference panel had developed since the first visit, share updates from the respective teams and continue to build relationships and share learning around public engagement.
Professor Mark Gabbay, Director of CLAHRC NWC, welcomed the group and outlined the importance of public involvement to the work of the NWC collaboration, flagging up examples of how this had been working in practice. All of the visitors were inducted as honorary members to the Public Reference Panel and learned the public engagement values of the NWC collaboration and the way public advisers are embedded in to the governance of the collaboration at every level.
A Q&A session was held with Directors of CLAHRC NWC during which the uniqueness of the NWC collaboration was discussed, including the focus on health inequalities, the broader determinants of health and the close working relationship established with local authorities and NWC neighbourhoods.
Managers from each CLAHRC NWC theme gave a short five minute overview their theme and how public engagement and involvement has been embedded with practical examples. This included a photograph competition for communities to develop their own unique community calendars, the public facing  'have your say'  events and collaborations with charities to involve and engage the public with our research. 
Jenny Irvine, Public Engagement Facilitator for CLAHRC NWC, said: “This has been a fantastic exchange. I think both sides have really benefited from spending time together, learning and experiencing a different public engagement model first-hand. This exchange has given us a unique opportunity to gain information and develop peer support relationships that wouldn't have been available to us from working in any other way. I really look forward to seeing how the relationship develops.
It was then time to try out the public engagement tools which the CLAHRC NWC have developed including a large snakes and ladders game, health inequalities board game, health inequalities quiz and opinion tree.
Diana Frost, who has been a PenPIG member since 2014, said: “The North West Coast has a lot of poverty, and so does Devon. We have health inequalities in rural areas due to the cost of property for example, isolation of elderly and an increase in food banks. Learning about the work going on here, especially in relation to the Neighbourhoods for Learning work has been particularly interesting and something I will be taking back for us to consider.“