Patient and Public Involvement in Education at the University of Birmingham

ppi-banner-720x360The University of Birmingham is seeking to expand and enhance the involvement of patients and members of the public with its medical and healthcare related teaching programmes.

As a result of this, there are new opportunities to get involved at a variety of levels. We plan to expand the number of taught programmes that benefit from Patient and Public Involvement (PPI), and to better coordinate this activity.

We will do this through establishment of a PPI Group based in the College of Medical and Dental Sciences that will facilitate sharing of ideas and best practice. If you are interested, you can learn more about our plans for patient and public input into education, and to learn about the variety of taught programmes you could become involved with.

Register now.

What is PPI?

PPI stands for patient and public involvement. It provides a channel for people with experience of the health service as users to be able to share their perspective, in ways that could lead to improvement of healthcare. “Involvement” in this context means participation in some way – by sharing with others the insights you have gained as a patient or carer.

PPI in research can help to ensure that the research will be relevant, and improve the design of research — especially research that involves patients or other human volunteers.

PPI in teaching can help ensure that people training to be doctors, nurses, other healthcare professionals, or biomedical researchers, never lose sight of the patient as an individual. It can help students learn how to communicate effectively and sympathetically with patients; and to appreciate what is important to patients, to make their experience of healthcare as positive as possible.

Who can be involved?

Anyone can be involved, however PPI representatives will often be people who have extensive experience of using the NHS, either as a patient (perhaps with a chronic condition) or as a carer of someone who is a patient.

For example, you may be a parent/carer of someone with a genetic condition; or you may have a long-term condition such as arthritis, diabetes, or cancer for which you have had ongoing interactions with the NHS over many years.

It is important to note that this is not the channel for complaints about specific problems you have encountered; we are looking for people who can use their experience of the NHS to contribute towards, and to help improve the training for our healthcare professionals.

Why is PPI important for teaching?

Obviously much of the teaching of healthcare professionals will involve quite complex scientific or technical information which goes beyond the knowledge of most lay people — otherwise there would be little need for doctors or hospitals. However, when it comes to explaining what it is like for the patient to have a particular condition or treatment, or to care for or live with someone with such a condition, YOU may be the expert.  Also, healthcare professionals need to communicate with patients in the way that is most helpful for the patient and respectful of their priorities. Here again, you may be able to advise, or to help teach students how to communicate clearly with patients.

It is one of the 7 key principles that guide the NHS, that “the patient will be at the heart of everything the NHS does”. It therefore makes sense that patients and the public should also be involved during the training of those who are training to work in the healthcare sector. 

What will it involve?

Possible ways to be involved may include,

  • Being part of a College PPI group, to discuss issues, take part in training, and spread best practice
  • Being a PPI representative to attend committee meetings for a particular course, to review its content and delivery
  • Reviewing and commenting on documentation for current courses,
  • Reviewing plans and contributing towards new course proposals
  • Suggesting ways in which students can be better informed about the patient’s experience
  • Helping with interviews
  • Taking part in classroom sessions or with small groups of students to discuss your own experience of a medical condition (e.g. diabetes or haemophilia, or undergoing screening for a genetic predisposition to a disease)
  • Advising or helping in role-play settings, to give students practice at various situations, such as taking a medical history or conveying bad news
  • Helping the students to learn how to write or explain things verbally in terms that lay people can understand
  • Other ways that a PPI group may be able to suggest

Note that involvement in PPI (for the great majority of those involved) will not be a full-time job; it will be occasional work. The types of work available will be made clear to you early in the process so you are able to pick and choose when you are involved. There is no regular time commitment needed (such as a weekly commitment). It is classed as casual work by the University. 

What is the benefit to me?

The main benefit to you will be the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping to improve the training of those who will work in the NHS, and thus ultimately improve the service that the NHS is able to deliver to all patients.

We hope you will also enjoy the experience of coming to the University and engaging with the staff and students, and also with other PPI representatives.

The time involved should be relatively little, so the fees will not be enough to live on, or to make you rich.  But we hope they will be an adequate compensation for the time and effort you commit.

This is not the forum for you to seek medical advice, or to seek to make changes to your medical care. For these, you should use the normal channels of the NHS, including your GP, the wider medical team involved in your care, NHS website and helplines, or your pharmacist.