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Meet Elly French: our new Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement Officer

elly french

A Q&A with Elly French - the NIHR CRN SWP's new Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement Officer.

Why did  you apply for the role?

I believe passionately in work with a purpose, and have always been employed in roles where you work with people to enhance lives and make positive change. I was excited by the opportunity to use skills in a new sector, and to play a part in supporting the growth and reach of clinical research.

What do you hope to bring to the role?

My background has been across the education, social care and voluntary sectors, and so I hope to be able to combine enthusiasm, knowledge, different processes and best practice with the great work already being done within the Health sector to continue to develop our work.

Why is patient and public involvement and engagement so important?

At risk of sounding clichéd, it is what we are all working to achieve, whatever our role – to improve lives with the patient and public at the centre of what we do. Without authentic and effective participation, involvement and engagement from those that we work on behalf of, how do we know we’re focussing on the right priorities and providing solutions that will make a difference?

Can you provide a brief update on recent PRES and PPIE activities in the network please and mention any future plans etc?

Partner organisations have adapted admirably to the many challenges of the pandemic, with virtual groups still meeting to ensure that volunteers, participants and Research Champions remain engaged with the participation agenda as much as possible, and some Trusts developed innovative ways of involving patients and the public in their work; this has ranged from participants assisting with the regular PRES survey response collection, to the creation of films now being used in organisational inductions for new staff.

Our PPIE Leads group from Partner Organisations across the South West Peninsula have met recently, and have agreed that we will hold a regional PPIE event in March of this year to showcase the work that has been going on across organisations, to engage a wider range of the population in clinical research, and to direct the planning for the CRN going forward. We will be following the national steer towards working to build lasting, localised schemes with as inclusive a range of the community as possible in order to build even stronger relationships. This will enable wider access to clinical research for as diverse a range of the population as possible, and we will challenge ourselves to ensure that those least likely to participate in work with us in the past are prioritised. We will be producing  innovative and bespoke pilot projects in conjunction with communities themselves to ensure that genuine co-production is accessible and attractive to all patients and the general public.