Bournemouth 2017

The inaugural Patient Liaison Group session – an interview with Prof Robert Arnott

At this years’ ACPGBI annual meeting in Bournemouth, 3-5 July, the association’s Patient Liaison Group (PLG)
will for the first time host a session discussing their work and the importance of working with patients and patient groups when applying for and working with research grants. We talked to Professor Robert Arnott who outlined the crucial role the PLG undertakes and how Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) is helping to shape current and future colorectal research.

The ACPGBI’s Patient Liaison Group (PLG) was established in 2008 to provide a channel of communication for patients and the public to the ACPGBI on surgery mostly for bowel cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. The PLG helps to give a patient’s perspective on such as research proposals, surgical guidelines, policy changes, to ensure the ACPGBI delivers a professional service to meet the current and future needs of colorectal patients, and continuously improve patient care.

In addition, the PLG raises areas of patient concern with the Association and responds to requests to provide views, comments and written commentaries for a patient readership for use by the Association, both for its own members and for an external professional and public audience. In this way, the PLG seeks to inform patients and the public about colorectal issues and their impact on patient care and the public.

“There are two specific categories of work the PLG undertakes. Firstly, we concentrate on Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) which focuses on research projects and grant applications, and ensures that researchers are asking the right questions in a manner that the public can understand, is relevant and is achievable,” said Professor Arnott. “Secondly, we advise and assist the ACPGBI, NHS Trusts, patient support groups and charities on the production of literature, such as post-operative care leaflets, in a language that members of the public can easily understand.”

He explained that over the last decade, healthcare has changed and patients want more information and involvement in their care. The days of “the Doctor knows best” are over, as patients are better informed than ever, partly due to social media and the internet, and they are fair more aware of surgical procedures, medication and post-operative care. Patients are now far more engaged in the treatment and care they receive, and want to work with healthcare professionals to improve these processes.

There are currently four members that comprise the PLG; Robert Arnott, Azmina Verjee, Jenny Pipe and Jo Church (Chairperson), who all have considerable experience as healthcare professionals, patients with colorectal disease, and patient support groups.

“This is the first time we have held a PLG session during the annual meeting and the speakers will discuss the various aspects of the work we do, in particular understanding the patient experience (Azmina Verjee), counselling patients (Jenny Pipe), the role of a patient liaison group and recruiting patient representatives (Jo Church), and the role of the researcher and why PPI is important (Nicola Fearnhead). The session will also include short presentations by several colorectal disease charities informing attendees of the work they do and how they can assist researchers in their projects.”

In recent years, the work of the PLG has increased, primarily due to the rise in the number of research grants awarded by the Bowel Disease Research Foundation (BDRF), specifically taking into consideration the PPI perspectives. Healthcare professionals are becoming more and more aware of the need to involve patients when developing their research projects. In fact, a number of the grant awarding bodies, such as the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), require patient involvement as each stage of the grant application process.

“The PLG session in Bournemouth will focus on the importance of PPI and we want all delegates who are interested in research projects or who are applying for research grants – consultants, surgical trainees, nurses and allied healthcare professionals – to understand the importance of patient involvement through the entire research project,” he concluded. “The session will explain in detail why this is important, how we provide a patient liaison service and put researchers in touch with charities and patient groups, societies and associations who will help researchers advance their research application by incorporating PPI.”

For more information about the PLG, please click here