Expert Citizens INSIGHT Evaluation Programme expands into healthcare research

By 7th January 2021 Blog No Comments

Expert Citizens is collaborating with the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, Keele University and the Midlands Partnership Foundation NHS Trust on a project to explore how the INSIGHT Evaluation Programme could be adapted for use in a healthcare research setting. This project, called Insight | Public Involvement, arose from discussions the EC team had with one of their new Board Members, Tony Fryer, who joined in 2019.

At the time, Tony was a Consultant Clinical Biochemist and Director of Research & Innovation at the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust. He recognised the potential of the INSIGHT Evaluation Programme in filling a gap for highlighting the benefits of involving people with lived experience in improving the quality of healthcare research.

A team of professional and public participants from the four partners came together and submitted a bid to the West Midlands Clinical Research Network (part of the research arm of the NHS) for funding for a project to co-produce and pilot a set of quality awards for public involvement in healthcare research. This bid was successful and the year-long project was officially launched in September 2020 at a launch event hosted by Expert Citizens.

What is the project about?

The project aims: ‘To work with people with lived experience to co-produce a Quality Awards scheme, using the Expert Citizens INSIGHT Evaluation Programme model, that recognises organisations according to their degree of involvement of the public in research.’

Like the Expert Citizens model, it uses an appreciative inquiry model to recognise excellence and share best practice, based the four Expert Citizens INSIGHT Evaluation Programme award levels – Welcoming, Listening, Learning and Leading.

Expert Citizens insight-logos-2021

The development of the new ‘Insight | Public Involvement Quality Awards’ will also be informed by the UK Standards for Public Involvement ( These were developed by the National Institute for Health Research to help improve the quality and consistency of public involvement in research. It comprises six standards:

  1. Inclusive opportunities
  2. Working together
  3. Support & Learning
  4. Communication
  5. Impact
  6. Governance

Project components

Based on these UK Standards and the Expert Citizens INSIGHT Programme, project partners and public contributors will work together in small groups (Task & Finish groups) on the four main parts of the Insight | Public Involvement Quality Awards:

  1. Co-create a public involvement quality ratings scheme. This will bring together the Expert Citizens Insight Awards with the UK Standards for Public Involvement.
  2. Co-design a way of evaluating organisations using the new public involvement quality ratings scheme. We are planning that people with lived experience of being involved with research, or who have taken part in a research study, will help carry out the evaluations, alongside professionals.
  3. Co-develop a training programme for the quality assessors (professional and public members).
  4. Co-produce plans for a future annual Insight | Public Involvement Quality Awards event. This will mirror the model used by Expert Citizens for the National INSIGHT Awards event.

Towards the end of the project, we will pilot the Insight | Public Involvement Quality Awards within two local research-active NHS Trusts and an academic institution. Quality assessors will carry out an evaluation using the newly developed public involvement quality ratings. They will recommend an award rating based on how well the organisation involves the public in its research activities. This will allow the project team to refine the programme with a view to endorsement by key national bodies and further funding to support scaling the programme up for national roll-out.

Progress to date

Since the launch event, we have completed the first of the small group activities on the first task – to co-create the quality ratings for healthcare research. This has created an excellent framework which links the six UK Standards and four Expert Citizens levels, with dynamic and expert input from a number of public and professional participants affiliated with the four partner organisations.

Expert Citizens logos

Just before Christmas, these were handed over to group 2 who will be looking at designing the evaluation framework during the first weeks of 2021. Overlapping with group 2, group 3 will be creating the training package for assessors

The team

The project has benefited hugely from the formidable expertise and experience brought to the project by Expert Citizens’ Rachele Hine, Sam Fairbanks and Phil Parkes, a fact frequently recognised by both public and professional contributors on the team.

Since being awarded the funding, Tony has moved to Keele University and the project has benefited from the expertise in healthcare public involvement from members of the School of Medicine’s Impact Accelerator Unit, especially Steven Blackburn (Research Fellow in Patient and Public Involvement & Engagement, and Regional and National Lead for Public Involvement in Research, National Institute for Health Research [Research Design Service]) and Nicki Evans (Impact Accelerator Unit Manager).

The project is hosted by the University Hospital of North Midlands, and is supported some of Tony’s former colleagues in the Research & Innovation Directorate; Katherine Lewney (Academic Development Manager) and Lucy O’Mara (Clinical Trials Manager).

From Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust, the project benefits from the public involvement and patient experience expertise of Jenny Lench (Involvement Manager) and Jessica Tunmore (Senior Research Assistant & Research Lead for Public & patient Involvement & Engagement).

We are also grateful to the West Midlands Clinical Research Network for funding the pilot project, and the input and support of their Head of Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement in Research, Mary-Anne Darby, and Research Champion, Ify Sarjant (who, as well as being a lay member, is also chair of the University Hospital of North Midlands Public and Patient Involvement group).

Last but not least, core to the project’s success is the considerable expertise and experience from a number of public members who have given their time and energy to the project, and are essential both to its delivery and long-term sustainability.