Published: 11 March 2022
Funders, regulators and research organisations who play an important role in UK health and social care research have come together, working with members of the public, to sign up to a bold new shared commitment to improve public involvement in research.
The NIHR and the Health Research Authority are working with a host of organisations to bring about changes that will drive up standards in health and social care research.
The shared commitment aims to address the gaps identified in leadership and communication by bringing patients and public contributors and leaders in health and social care together to set out the importance of public involvement in all health and social care research.
The statement has been co-produced with members of the public, patients and service users. Ifeanyi Sargeant an NIHR public contributor said: “Ultimately, research aims to ask the right questions to get answers for problems and challenges we face. But how to know which questions to ask and what is most important or meaningful to address for people with health or social care needs? The only way is to ask the people affected what they struggle with and what they need. That's why public involvement in research - right from the initial ideas through to practical implementation - is vitally important. If we don't ask the right questions then we can never hope to deliver the right answers and solutions that can improve lives."
The statement, signed by leaders at each organisation, can be found here.
Professor Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the NIHR and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Health and Social Care added: “Partnering with patients, service users, carers and communities is absolutely fundamental to improving research. We're proud to have worked with health and social care leaders and public contributors to develop this strong statement of our ongoing commitment to public involvement.
We already have a track record in this area but we are committed to supporting researchers to become more skilled and confident in partnership working and to making it more straightforward for patient and public members to work with us.
The benefits are clear – by involving patients and the public in our research from the outset, we plan and deliver studies that are relevant and important. This approach ensures that people’s perspectives and lived experiences of health and care are heard and acted upon.”
This statement follows NIHR's next steps for working in partnerships with patients and the public plan which was published last year.
The shared commitment builds on earlier work from the HRA. In January last year the HRA produced a report, on their public involvement matching service which was set up in response to the drastic reduction in public involvement seen in studies submitted for approval at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report entitled Public Involvement in a Pandemic, highlighted four gaps that had led to public involvement being left out of health and social care research applications. The NIHR also reaffirmed its support for patient and public involvement, engagement and participation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The HRA and NIHR are working with partners on the Recovery, Resilience and Growth (RRG) of UK clinical research programme. This includes work to make research more diverse and more relevant to the whole of the UK, and to strengthen public, patient and service user involvement in research.
Lord Kamall, Minister for Technology, Innovation and Life Sciences, said: "Today’s sector-wide public commitment makes a strong statement that the organisations signing up, led by the Health Research Authority (HRA) and NIHR, recognise and welcome the importance of involving the general public in health and social care research.
We want the UK to be one of the best places in the world to invest in a life-science business and to deliver research that benefits everyone. The key to this is to develop stronger partnerships between research and patients and the wider public. Involving the public in research will help researchers conduct better studies that are open to everyone. Such inclusive research will enable the UK to deliver more world-leading, life-changing breakthroughs in science and improvements, which in turn will improve the health of our nation."
Other organisations are invited to sign up to the statement. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.