Welsh Government

New public involvement team turns one!

Message from Zoë Abbott, PARC Coordinator, RDCS SWW

The Involving People Network enables researchers to improve their funding applications by learning from the experience of members of the public. Their insights as patients, carers, service users or otherwise lay members means they can not only assist with lay summaries, but can also help to fine-tune the research method, including when and how potential research participants are approached.

As a Wales-wide service, the Network shares each opportunity for involvement and allows good time for the members to respond. Unfortunately, busy clinic diaries mean researchers can identify funding calls with very little notice, so there is not always enough time to access the Network in this way. For these situations, RDCS SW Wales worked with the Health and Care Research Wales Public Involvement and Engagement team to develop a new route to access Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) expertise. 

The Population Advice for Research Committee (PARC) was developed in early 2017, piloted from 1 July 2017 and became a permanent fixture in the South West from the start of 2018. PARC exists to support the NHS and social care researchers who come to the Research Design and Conduct Service (RDCS) too late to otherwise access the expertise of Involving People Network members. PARC members are all Network members, and so have access to the same training and support from the Health and Care Research Wales Public Involvement and Engagement team, as well as a dedicated local contact, the PARC Co-ordinator. 

In this, their inaugural year, PARC members have supported 10 trial funding-applications, across eight different research themes. They have also contributed to both the Involving People Network Annual Meeting in March and the International Clinical Trials Day events in May 2018. 

The format has been praised by members and those who have accessed their expertise alike, and is in the process of being replicated by other research teams across Wales. We are looking forward to what the next 12 months bring!