During May, we are posting a series of blogs about patient and public involvement as part of the NIHR’s Be Part of Research campaign to mark this year’s International Clinical Trials Day.

Patients and the public are an integral part of any medical research. Without our fantastic volunteers it would be impossible for us to make breakthroughs which improve the way diseases are tested for and treated. Our BRC supports a number of Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) groups which meet with researchers to provide a lay person’s point of view on their work and help them to decide where to focus their efforts. In addition to this, we also have the Research Advisory Group (RAG) which brings together patients, carers and members of the local community, to support and advise researchers about how best to involve and engage patients and the public in research.

In January 2021 we led a recruitment campaign to expand the membership of our Research Advisory Group (RAG) to help us improve our research, maximise research benefits to patients and help to determine our research priorities for the next five years. With research being at the forefront of the nation’s minds, this was a crucial time to recruit new PPI members and to expand the diversity of the group.

It’s important to us that the group reflects the diverse population of our community and that we hear opinions from a wide range of people with a range of experiences with healthcare and with research. We therefore wanted to positively encourage applications from under-represented groups and added a statement to our advert and ensured that it was circulated amongst local communities and organisations.

Nana Ocran, a recently recruited member of the group said:

“I would definitely encourage more people from different ethnic backgrounds to join the research group. That is exactly why I joined. It is so important for our voices to be heard so more research is directed towards what matters to us. So far, it has been really interesting to hear about all the amazing work being done that as a member of the public you do not truly appreciate.”

We have successfully recruited 11 new members to the group, nine of whom are of working age and nine of whom are from the Black Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.

As well as needing to recruit members to help us to decide on our priorities, we are also keen to explore new ways of engaging with PPI audiences due to the need for more online communication methods in light of the COVID19 pandemic.

We delivered an induction involving our directors and managers who gave presentations to help RAG members better understand the BRC, the work that we do and the projects we will be collaborating on together.

Clive Moore, RAG Chair said:

“In the last few months the Research Advisory Group has activity been looking to create diversity and increase its membership. Following the expansion of our group, now more than ever the people of South London have a diversity of voices that reflects the people. We all have a voice but it can only be heard when people are willing to come forward and speak.”

You can find out more about the Research Advisory Group here or by contacting Jacintha McGahon