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Research Ambassadors come together to learn about the benefits of promoting research

Research Ambassadors come together to learn about the benefits of promoting research

Patient Research Ambassadors (PRAs) came together to learn about maximising their roles at a jointly hosted event at the Clinical Research Network (CRN) South London.

The event held last month at Guy’s Hospital in London was organised by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) CRNs in South London, North Thames, North West London and Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

The PRA scheme involves patients, carers and members of the public promoting health and social care research within their local NHS Trusts.

CRN South London’s Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement Lead Robert Pleass, who co-organised the event, said:

“Patient Research Ambassadors play an important role in promoting research from a patient's point of view, and as a network we want to play our part in supporting them to do that effectively within their NHS Trusts.

“I was really pleased with how the event went and would like to say thank you to everyone who attended. Our delegates were really engaged and came up with some interesting ideas, highlighting the benefits of working collaborativly across the Pan-London and Kent, Surrey and Sussex regions.”

The first session of the day was delivered by Gillian Fletcher, CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex Patient Research Ambassador. Gillian talked about how PRAs can work effectively with their respective NHS Trusts, emphasising the importance of building relationships.

This was followed by a workshop to develop ideas to promote the PRA scheme and to share what currently works well. Ideas put forward included a PRA impact award scheme, better links with community groups and more engagement with frontline staff.

A demonstration of the Research Champions Toolkit came later, delivered by Karen Inns - the Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement Priority Lead at the NIHR CRN Coordinating Centre. This toolkit provides guidance, information and support to PRAs and the session also explained the national change of role titles to bring a number of different Champions under the one umbrella of Research Champions.

Juliette Nibbs, a PRA, then delivered a session focussing on the importance of improving equality and diversity in the work that we all do.

Later in the afternoon came time for an in-depth look at the national questions for the Participant in Research Experience Survey (PRES). Ideas were workshopped in small groups as to how the survey could be improved to generate the most useful responses.

Plans are in place to hold another event next year. Email Robert at if you would like to find out more about the scheme.