Debating research at a parliamentary drop-in session
Written by Maureen Grossman, patient insight partner
I have osteoarthritis and have been a volunteer with Arthritis Research UK for nearly ten years, most recently as a patient insight partner. Attending the MPs drop-in session at the Houses of Parliament was one of the many interesting opportunities I have had to support Arthritis Research UK.
I was on the research stand where MPs were asked to take part in a game where they had to choose which research projects to invest in. Some MPs struggled to spend the 'million pounds' that we gave them and to decide which of five research projects should have priority. Katherine Free (Research Engagement Manager) and I explained as concisely as we could what each project was about and whether it was currently 'science fiction' or quite close to becoming immediately applicable to patients. Quite a few arguments developed, mostly between MPs, which I found fascinating. Some MPs were more risk averse than others.
This activity made me even more aware of my responsibilities as a patient insight partner, where I consider grant awards of thousands, if not millions, of pounds. The MPs, many with arthritis themselves, certainly became aware of the pressing need for a charity such as Arthritis Research UK. I loved attending the event, and felt by being there I was making a difference, raising the awareness of arthritis in Parliament and encouraging MPs to consider strategies in their constituencies which would ideally prevent the development of arthritis, but at least slow progression and provide support where needed.