Putting people first: embedding public involvement in health and social care research

Bristol Health Partners, the Health Research Authority, the National Institute for Health and Care Research and a host of organisations across the UK have been working together to bring about changes which will drive up standards in health and social care research. Together we have signed up to a Shared Commitment to public involvement.

Our pledge to improve public involvement in health and social care research

Bristol Health Partners exists to help people in our region live longer and healthier lives by improving the health and care services on which they rely. We enable a wide variety of research and innovation to help find new and better ways of working. We can only do this by listening and responding to the aspirations, needs and experiences of people who live and work in our region.

Working with People in Health West of England, our public contributors and partners, we will:

  1. ensure public contributors are involved in all aspects of our partnership’s decision making from the start and at every stage in the work we do. We will build on and sustain our long-established practice of including contributors as active and valued partners – on our Board, in our Health Integration Teams and beyond. We will find instances where involvement can be improved and take action to address this
  2. involve public contributors in our partnership with diverse backgrounds and experiences. By working respectfully with under-served communities, we will build trust to address barriers to involvement and find appropriate ways to involve a wider range of people in our decision-making and work
  3. develop, share and advocate for good practice in patient and public involvement. We will encourage and celebrate excellent involvement and support in our partnership and local networks. Where we see opportunities for improvement in other organisations, we will advocate for this and offer support.

Shared Commitment to Public Involvement

Bristol Health Partners has also signed up to the national Shared Commitment to Public Involvement, which says:

Public involvement is important, expected and possible in all types of health and social care research.

Together, our organisations and members fund, support and regulate health and social care research. This statement is our joint commitment to improve the extent and quality of public involvement across the sector so that it is consistently excellent.

People have the right to be involved in all health and social care research. Excellent public involvement is an essential part of health and social care research and has been shown to improve its quality and impact. People’s lived experiences should be a key driver for health and social care research.

When we talk about public involvement, we mean all the ways in which the research community works together with people including patients, carers, advocates, service users, and members of the community. Excellent public involvement is inclusive, values all contributions, ensures people have a meaningful say in what happens and influences outcomes, as set out in the UK Standards for Public Involvement.

Working together we will support the research community to carry out excellent public involvement. We will provide or share guidance, policies, systems, and incentives. We will:

  • listen to and learn from the people and communities we involve and apply and share that learning
  • build and share the evidence of how to involve the public and the impact this has
  • support improvements in equality, diversity, and inclusion in public involvement
  • promote the UK Standards for Public Involvement

We will embed this commitment into the decision-making processes of our organisations.

Find out more about our Shared Commitment partners and their work