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Case study: Gillian: 'Research evidence is crucial'

Patient Research Ambassadors are our public champions. They help promote health research in their local communities. This voluntary position is supported by our local engagement teams.

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Gillian answers our questions about her experience of being a Patient Research Ambassador

I'm a retired GP. I have had extensive head and neck surgery in relation to cancer, and this has left me with issues around hearing which impact me on a daily basis. Over the years I've been supported by my daughter and two delightful grandchildren.

How did you first hear about Patient Research Ambassadors?

One of the health professionals who treats me at Queen Victoria Hospital (QVH) in East Grinstead mentioned it to me. She suggested I look at a leaflet about Patient Research Ambassadors and contact one of her colleagues who works in the Research & Development (R&D) department and supports PRAs at the Trust.

What made you decide to become a Patient Research Ambassador?

Having read the leaflet about PRAs and the sort of things they do I met with Debbie at QVH. I was already almost sure I wanted to proceed, and a conversation with Debbie confirmed this.

Why do you think NHS research is important?

Research evidence is crucial for all aspects of patient care, and for constant opportunities to improve and develop.

What activities have you been involved with?

I attended a pan London/Kent Surrey and Sussex PRA meeting in London towards the end of last year and met other PRAs from different areas. I was able to access training in relation to communication skills. I've also attended a Research & Development (R&D) committee meeting at QVH, and I'm looking forward to getting more involved and talking to patients about opportunities to take part in research.

What would you say to others who are considering getting involved?

It's really worthwhile considering because you can make a real difference for others. You can support the R&D team too. Lay people have such a lot to offer.