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Say it for our admin staff!

The departure from PHWE of Kim Thomas, the Team administrator and PA, prompts Hildegard Dumper her manager for the past 3 ½ years to reflect on the vital role a good administrator plays in the success of a project.

The story starts in February 2014, when I was appointed to set up a new team that would support four partners to develop a strong public involvement approach to their work. The partners were Bristol Health Partners (BHP), CLAHRC West, NIHR CRN West of England and the West of England Academic Health Science Network (WEAHSN), with University of West of England providing the Academic Lead. When PHWE started we were originally based in the offices of WEAHSN in S Plaza. Rosie, Kim and I started our life with PHWE there. It was a time of great optimism and adventure. WEAHSN had just been set up, CLAHRC was embarking on new horizons, CRN was in the middle of being re-organised and BHP was developing a new business plan. This was an opportunity to put in a new approach to public involvement; to challenge the traditional NHS tendency to work in silos, and work in a collaborative way on the issue of public involvement. By sharing resources we aimed to increase the partner’s efficiency and effectiveness in public involvement.

Traditionally there is a big divide between public involvement in health research and public involvement in service provision and improvement. The public involvement staff in each sector rarely works together. We were being given the opportunity to work across these silos, sharing knowledge and expertise and avoiding duplication. There was a sense of adventure that comes with the realisation that we were pioneers in a new way of working and were treading new ground.  PHWE were going to put in place a model that would show how it could be done; we were going to change the world – and the admin post was pivotal to making this a success!

WEAHSN, CLAHRC West, BHP and CRN are all hosted by different organisations. In August 2014, Kim set about bringing together the culture, systems and processes of 4 quite separate host organisations – UHB, RUH Bath, UWE and University of Bristol with NIHR being an additional factor here and there. These were systems affecting how PHWE finance, expenses claims, reporting mechanisms, email addresses, website, codes, passwords etc had to be carried out. Kim became good friends with all the important people in IT, catering, estates, travel firms, HR, hospitality, venues, hotels and so on. She won all of them over with her charm and good humour, always done with such cheerfulness and a ‘can do’ attitude. Perhaps the fact that she came from outside the NHS helped – she brought a fresh eye to long standing challenges. In addition she came with experiences and knowledge of systems and practices which could improve the efficiency of PHWE and hence its partners also. Everything was a practical challenge which could be overcome with a bit of determination.

It was Kim’s patience and dogged refusal to give up that was instrumental in getting the people in the organisations she dealt with to make compromises. Her patience and recognition of her role in educating finance, HR and other staff, on the complexities of the project led to small but significant results. Small but important bureaucratic changes were made; expense claim forms were amended to be more user friendly for public contributors, finance staff were prepared to have some flexibility in managing claims and IT staff went out of their way to help make the different systems compatible.

Her leaving will be a great loss to us all at PHWE. Not just because she is a lovely person, but with her goes all the memory and knowledge that she has acquired in her role. We couldn’t have achieved what we have without her.

So thank you Kim for all your hard work, for having been such fun to work with and for having made the last few years such an adventure!



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How to achieve a successful working relationship with public contributors

As with any member of our team, public contributors need to be properly valued and respected for the role they play in shaping and delivering our work, and need to be effectively managed. Here Hildegard Dumper draws on her professional experience to share her tips on how to achieve a successful working relationship with public contributors.


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Healthcare Change Makers link is live

Bristol Community Health are excited to report the link for the Healthcare Change Makers is now live.

Could you be one of Bristol’s first Healthcare Change Makers?  Are you enthusiastic about the way that we, and our hospitals deliver services now and how we might adapt to meet future needs?  Together with North Bristol Trust and University Hospitals Bristol, Bristol Community Health is looking to equip local residents with the skills, knowledge and confidence to work alongside us to improve our services.

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PHWE has new professional co-chair

We are delighted to be able to announce that Julie Hapeshi, has agreed to take on the role of co-chair for People in Health West of England.  Julie will be sharing this role with Cathy Rice, our public contributor co-chair.  Julie brings to the role a wealth of experience and insights.  She is Deputy Director of the Research Design Service (RDS) and of Research & Development at Gloucester Hospitals Trust and a founding member of PHWE.  In addition, her RDS role links Julie to the new INVOLVE team.  We are all looking forward to working with Julie in her new role as co-chair.

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What does co-production actually mean in practice? asks Hildegard Dumper, the West of England AHSN’s Patient and Public Involvement Manager

You might have noticed there are a number of buzz words currently flying around, the most common starting with the prefix ‘co’: co-produce, co-design and co-create. Even NHS England talks about co-design in its Five Year Forward View. I thought I would share with you my understanding about these ‘co’ words, and what they mean for us.

The first thing we need to understand is that all these ‘co’ words describe an approach to working with the public that regards each individual, regardless of their role, as having a valuable contribution to make. Central to this approach are principles of reciprocity and equality. We at the West of England AHSN have committed ourselves to being guided by these principles and working in a co-produced way.

There are a number of definitions of co-production. The National Co-production Critical Friends defines it as…

‘a relationship where professionals and citizens share power to plan and deliver support together, recognising that both have vital contributions to make in order to improve quality of life for people and communities.’

The New Economic Foundation / NESTA suggests co-production is…

‘delivering public services in an equal and reciprocal relationship between professionals, people using services, their families and their neighbours. Where activities are co-produced in this way, both services and neighbourhoods become far more effective agents of change.’

 NHS England’s Citizen’s Assembly describes co-production as…

‘service users, or the public in general, working in partnership with service providers or commissioners to jointly make decisions.’

So what does this actually mean for us in practice? There are a number of things that need to be considered when deciding to work in a co-produced way.

1. What’s in scope?

Decide which pieces of work are suitable for co-production and what can and cannot be achieved by involving people in this way.


2. Identify resources

Consider what resources you have available. Think about:

  • Staffing – who will be managing the project?
  • Funding – have you the resources to pay travel expenses and/or people’s time? See our guide to paying expenses.
  • Timing – involving people takes longer. What is your time-line?
  • Identifying suitable people – what kind of selection process would be fair and appropriate?

3. Produce role descriptions

Develop and agree with your public contributors a role description which clearly states the time commitment expected from them, the length of their involvement and payment details (a template role description is available).

4. Create a level playing field

Identify where power imbalances can exist and take steps to minimise them. For example, don’t have meetings at a time that excludes public contributors from attending or from taking part in the background thinking and development of a project.

5. Value difference

Work with a wide range of people, using different people for different pieces of work.

It has been shown that where genuine co-production has taken place, it can deliver better outcomes, support better use of scarce resources and improve the well-being of those involved – clearly a win/win situation for the West of England AHSN.
Posted on February 24, 2016 by Hildegard Dumper, Patient and Public Involvement Manager for the West of England AHSN

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Getting you people’s voices heard in health research

Being so close to Christmas, you might expect a bit of a party atmosphere at the last Generation R Young Person’s Advisory Group meeting on December 21st and you’d be right. There was, however, some serious research work to be done in between the mince pies and chocolate log.

Sixteen young people, whose ages ranged from eleven to seventeen, were asked for their opinions on a variety of topics including, how to get young people to exercise without them realising, aptly titled the “Stealth Project” and who they would  prefer to teach them about sex (stop giggling at the back) and relationships  – a teacher they knew or a complete stranger.
They were also given free rein to design novel medication adherence devices which included tattoos that only ink up when you need to take your tablets and a friendship bracelet that changes colour to remind you to take your medicine.
It was a long and tiring day finishing with a brief anatomy lesson and an opportunity to have a try at taking a blood sample from a variety of “arms”.
Finally, “Santa” dropped in to present the participants with a certificate and a lucky dip with various “health research” related gifts.
The next planned meeting will be on 5 April 2016.  If you feel your research project might benefit from critical evaluation of a feisty group of young people you can email mike.bell@bristol.ac.uk or 0117 342 1249 to book a place.

Mike Bell

Patient & Public Involvement Facilitator
People in Health West of England
Phone: 0117 342 1249
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Research on avoiding emergency hospital admissions for older people

Patient and carer input to research on avoiding emergency hospital admissions for older people

A Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) session is being held on Friday 29 January 2016, in Bristol, for older people who have either recently been discharged from hospital or who have healthcare issues that may cause them to be admitted in an emergency situation in future.  We are also interested in talking to anyone who is the carer of someone in these circumstances.

As part of an NIHR-funded study, we have been carrying out research to try to define the characteristics of those older patients for whom the decision to admit to hospital may be unclear.  We now want to check our understanding of the findings with patients and carers themselves, and to hear their real-life experiences / views about hospital admission and discharge.  This will help us think about the next phase of our research.

If you have patients aged 65+ who have had an emergency admission in the recent past, or who may be at risk of such an admission, and you think may be willing and able to help us, please give them the invitation below and encourage them (or their carer) to contact us.  Thank you.

PPI invite for primary care

Sue Jenkins (PPI Co-ordinator for the ‘Managing Uncertainty for older people’ NIHR Programme Development Grant)

Telephone:  07810 540041 or e-mail:  sue@suejenkins.biz


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Nicky Williams moving on from co-chair PHWE

Many congratulations to our co-chair Dr Nicky Williams who has been appointed to the exciting post of National Director of Support & Delivery for Health and Social Care Research for Wales and so will be stepping down from her role with PHWE.  Nicky has been a wonderful champion for patient and public involvement for many years and was one of a small group who came together in 2008 with the vision to collaborate to support involvement in research across the West of England.  This led to the innovative creation of People and Research West of England which Nicky ably chaired from 2010-2013.  With the advent of the West of England Academic Health Science Network and CLAHRC West in 2014, this gave us the opportunity to greatly extend the work of PRWE and embed it in the new West of England partnership structures.  Thus PHWE was formed with a stronger public voice including a public co-chair working alongside Nicky.  Nicky has continued to lead with her characteristic combination of strategic vision and superb facilitation skills.  Nicky will be badly missed by all of us at PHWE but we wish her all the best at her exciting hew national role in health and social care research in Wales.

Posted on December 16, 2015 by David Evans, Professor in Health Services Research Public Involvement at the University of the West of England

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Developing effective patient and public involvement (PPI) takes time and commitment, says the West of England AHSN’s Patient and Public Involvement Manager, Hildegard Dumper

Two events in the last week have reminded me that the development of good public involvement takes time.

At a panel discussion on cities, health, people and leadership at the Festival of the Future City last week, Professor David Evans pointed out that INVOLVE is now 20 years old. INVOLVE is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to support public involvement in the NHS, public health and social care research. It is now well established as the key body to drive forward and support good practice in public involvement in research, providing the benchmark for other areas of health and social care.

In the context of an NHS that has gone through several major structural changes in the past few years, this consistency is a major achievement.

I was reminded again how the development of a truly patient and people led health service takes time at the People in Health West of England Awayday this week. During an exercise reflecting on our achievements over the past year, we realised that the idea for a joint PPI initiative was first mooted in 2008, seven years ago. This evolved first into People & Research West of England, before being re-launched as People in Health West of England (PHWE) in 2014.

Throughout this time the network has been chaired by Nicky Williams, Deputy Director of Research, North Bristol NHS Trust. Nicky is now leaving us to take on the post of National Director of Support & Delivery for Health And Social Care Research for Wales.

Nicky told me: “It has been a pleasure to co-chair the strategy group with Cathy Rice over the last few years and I look forward to hearing all about the work of PHWE in the future. I’m really proud of how PHWE has grown from the little seed of an idea that we first discussed in 2008 – a real credit to the commitment of the public contributors and staff involved.”

Posted on November 27, 2015 by Hildegard Dumper, Patient and Public Involvement Manager for the West of England AHSN

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