PPI case study
Georgette is a NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow and advanced paramedic, currently working on her DPhil based in the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine.
Her DPhil topic is looking at the impact of paramedics in NHS primary care, considering their role in this setting and answering questions about how, why, for whom and in what contexts paramedics work in primary care.
Georgette was previously working as an advanced paramedic in primary care and so asked members of the Patient Participation Group there if they would be willing to advise on her project. This started off very well until unfortunately the Covid pandemic meant that many of them were unable to continue. Undeterred, she advertised through the national website People in Research to look for new members and was successful in finding a diverse group of people from across the UK. Georgette meets regularly with her group online to update them on the progress of her project and to discuss her findings – they are not afraid to speak their minds and hold her to account with what she has said she will do.
The impact of PPI
Georgette has built up a strong relationship with her group – they are all keen to have a face-to-face meeting as soon as possible! She says: ‘I have been really lucky to benefit from the input of patients and members of the public throughout my DPhil… Their perspectives really challenged my viewpoints and made me look at the data differently.’
Through discussions with an initial working group of patients, the most important questions from their perspective for evaluation were outlined. In these discussions, they realised that there were unanswered questions, such as whether paramedics were the most appropriate clinicians working within primary care, and that evidence was needed to know if this was beneficial for all patients. Discussions around their thoughts and experiences centred on ‘how’ paramedics could work in primary care, given that paramedics normally work within the emergency services, and whether this would work only in certain areas. Georgette realised that to properly explore and evaluate the optimal place for paramedics in primary care, a realist approach was needed to explain what works, for whom and in what contexts.
Throughout data collection and subsequent work packages, Georgette has benefited from ongoing discussions, support and challenge when considering the impact of her findings on patients. She says that this has really helped by ensuring that findings have practical implications for service users.