I wasn’t convinced when our Hospital Trust, my employer, decided to encourage the involvement of patients in various aspects of its business. Over time, and with the benefit of experience, I came to realise that PPI, far from being a threat to the delivery of a good service, had the potential to offer important opportunities and unique insights. Years later and I would find myself on the receiving end of care with the discovery that I had become seriously ill. My journey as a patient with cancer took me through many experiences: diagnostics, therapeutics, research and much more – all of which would have influenced my practice if I’d still been working. The opportunity to get involved as a patient representative within the BRC has made it possible to channel those new insights.
As a member of the Cancer group and latterly the PPI Advisory Group I have spoken to many researchers: learnt about their studies, explored issues such as recruitment and commented on their advisory material for patients. The groups have contributed to the development of research tools, played a major role in training, and promoted the patient’s perspective in research both internally and nationally. One of the most exciting aspects of PPI for me is the challenge of ensuring that the patient’s voice is heard at every level of the research process, and within the organisations that support it. We need to demonstrate to colleagues that PPI has a meaningful impact and that whenever possible that this is reflected in measurable change. To this end I look forward to the time when our groups not only comment on research but play an active role in commissioning it.