Shirley Hall, Patient Research Ambassador

Meet Shirley... North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust's first Patient Research Ambassador

Date: 16 March 2018

Meet Shirley...

Research volunteer and Patient Research Ambassador for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m a 47 year old civil servant, working in finance and risk assurance but I was really keen to do something useful in my local area that I was interested in but like a lot of people I never got around to doing anything about it.

How did you first hear about Patient Research Ambassadors?

Back in March 2017 I was on the hospital website looking for something else and I came across the Patient Research Ambassador role being advertised. All I had to do was fill in a form, go through an interview process, DBS check, references, corporate induction and then I started the role in December 2017.

What made you decide to become a Patient Research Ambassador?

I have taken part in research, I participated in the UK Familial Ovarian Cancer Study which was a five year study, I got involved because we have breast and ovarian cancer in the family and when my Aunt was at her GP the Doctor mentioned the study at the genetics clinic and when she met the study team they told her to invite me as well. It was very straight forward to be involved. If it hadn’t been for one doctor who sent my auntie to the genetics clinic, I wouldn’t be a Patient Research Ambassador today!

You do not need to be a doctor or a nurse to be involved in research, I am here to be a link between clinicians and patients - my priority is to get people involved in research and this is a great way to interact with patients and carers!

To anyone considering the Patient Research Ambassador role I would say go for it, it doesn’t take up a lot of time and I work full time, you can do so much from home and a lot of what I do is online.

Why do you think NHS research is important?

Unfortunately my Mum died of cancer so I wanted to do something useful going forward. Participating in a study gave me a real interest in research and I wanted to do something useful going forward. So many people die of cancer and this won’t change without research!

What activities have you been involved with?

I’m still new to the role and I am just about to go and meet one of the hospital governors to see what I can be involved in. I am going to a focus group next month that the Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement team at the Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria are holding, I’m also meeting with the hospital user group soon and going with a research nurse to clinics to see how nurses recruit patients.

I’ve also given comments on a patient facing leaflet for the trust Research Evaluation Board. The next step for me is to get involved in patient groups and meet patients and carers to talk to people in everyday life about research. I would also like to meet other Patient Research Ambassadors in the North East and North Cumbria area! I have had great support from the Research and Development team at North Tees Hospital who take the time to involve me in meetings and events and I regularly meet with my manager to discuss what I have been doing and plan my workload. You are not just left to your own devices and it’s great to feel part of the team.

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

I want to share my experience of research with others and I want to show patients and their families or carers that there are studies for them to take part in if that is what they decide. I just want to encourage others to think about taking part in research and development and point them towards further help and support. Our health and the health of those closest to us is of paramount importance. Getting involved in research is a chance to take part in something that could also potentially improve the health of future generations. It is worth it.

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    Meet Shirley... North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust's first Patient Research Ambassador
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