Clinical Research Office. A partnership between Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Sheffield

The Online Public Advisory Panel

What is the purpose of the Online Public Advisory Panel?

The main purpose of the Online Patient Advisory Panel is to ensure that research carried out at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust is patient-focused. The Trust has set up many face-to-face disease specific lay advisory panels, and further information can be found about these by using the menu on the left of this webpage.

However, we have many areas of research that do not fit into these disease specific categories. Therefore the purpose of the online advisory panel is to provide any researcher at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust with an opportunity to gain a patient perspective on their project.

John-Paul Ashton, panel member

Research for everyone with diverse, patient-orientated topics and a taste for the future work our NHS and researchers are providing. As a reviewer, it's a pleasure to be involved in the process


Who can join the Online Public Advisory Panel?

Members of the panel can be former or current patients who have an interest in contributing to research. The disease/research area does not need to be specific to your experiences as a patient, but you may have particular interests that you choose to focus on.

Linda Pert, panel member

I joined the online panel as I have always been interested in research.  It has been fascinating reading the papers I have been sent as it gives you an insight into how practitioners are trying to drive their particular area forward.  It is a bit like being a fly on the wall of a room full of doctors and nurses as they discuss how to do things better.  Most reviews don’t take more than an hour, so fitting it in isn’t an issue for me and I am a working mum with four kids.  To think that you may have a tiny bit of influence in improving future healthcare, by being on the panel, is quite amazing


If I became a member of the Online Public Advisory Panel, what would I have to do?

As a member of the group, you would be expected to comment on and provide feedback on a variety of documents. You may be asked to comment on:

  • Research proposals/ideas
  • Plain English Summaries
  • Patient information documents

None of the documents will be more than a few pages long (so you will not be asked to read large, technical documents). You will be provided with a ‘reviewer form’ that will give you specific points to address so that you can give clear, concise feedback to the researcher. This will all be done online via e-mail.

Patrizia Biancardi, panel member

Being a member of this patient panel is giving me a unique insight into an extremely relevant world, not usually easily accessible, and how it works, the opportunity to gain new knowledge on many different topics, and the chance to present my comments and doubts on health research activities, while sharing my personal experience, as well as of friends' and relatives', with the people actually carrying out the work


Do I need any qualifications?

You do not need any formal qualifications to become a Panel member. Some previous relevant experience may be an advantage but not essential, for example commenting as part of a committee, skills that you have gained from employment. We host a training day which you will be given the opportunity to attend (once we are able to hold these again), which will provide you with some really useful background information on types of research, how research gets funded, ethical considerations etc. 

Why do it?

People decide to get involved in research for a variety of reasons, for example:

  • You may have personal knowledge and experience which you would like the research to take into account
  • You may want a chance to give something back and help influence research to benefit others
  • You may like the opportunity to develop personal skills or to help to bring about improvements in health care   

Chris Taylor, online panel member

The main reason I joined the panel was that following treatment for breast cancer earlier in the year, and this was less than year after taking early retirement, I felt I needed to do something positive to give me a purpose to my life again. I have really enjoyed the experience, finding it both challenging and rewarding and as it is on-line I can fit the ‘work’  around everything else I do when I am free


What would I get out of it?

People who have been involved in research have described many positive benefits of getting involved which include: learning about research and the topic being researched; developing a broader understanding of why research matters; developing practical skills; the satisfaction of making a contribution and helping to improve services.

For further information on the Panel and how you can join, please open the Guidance Document below:

 Online Panel Guidance for Patients