Patient Research Ambassadors

A Patient Research Ambassador (PRA) is someone who promotes health research from a patient point of view. As a PRA you can help to ensure that people using local NHS care have the best opportunities and choices about taking part in research studies.

John PRA John Whelpton is one of our Patient Research Ambassadors and he explains here what this involves. 

Please tell us a little bit about yourself
My name is John Whelpton and I am married, with 2 grown-up children and 4 grand children. In 2009 I was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer, which came as a complete shock, and horror, to me, and my family. Fortunately I was caught at an early stage, so surgery was successful, and I was returned to “normal” after 12 months, having had a temporary stoma and attendant hernia. and additionally  I have fought off two types of skin cancer although they were never life-threatening. So, feeling that I am one of the lucky ones, I give as much of my time as I can as a Patient Representative on various groups, hopefully to make a difference for those not as fortunate as myself.

How did you first hear about Patient Research Ambassadors?
A member of one of the groups I attend at Mid Yorks was the Chief Research Nurse and she invited me onto their committee, from where I have moved on to the National Advisory Group for PRAs.

What made you decide to become a Patient Research Ambassador?
I work closely with Bowel Cancer UK, who lead the research into the disease, and know how important this work is in trying to get on top. We need to encourage as many patients as possible to partake in trials, when invited, and I hope to be able to influence that.

Why do you think NHS research is important?
Without research we would not see as many improvements in techniques, medicines and treatments – all vital in the fight against disease. We also learn and share new ways to improve patient outcomes.

What activities have you been involved with?
I am on two research trial Steering Groups as a patient representative. These are the LAVA trial, comparing treatments of liver metastases, and the PROMS trial looking at patient outcomes after colorectal surgery. I was also involved in the upcoming Leeds Lung Check-Up trial, advising on literature etc. I attend the Mid Yorks Research Committee meetings, as well as the National Advisory Group for the NIHR, and their focus group on a research app.

What would you say to others who are considering getting involved in research?
Please give as much energy and time as you can, because better, more informed, knowledge will help so many people in the future – which could be you, or your family.

If you are interested in contributing as PRA or for more information on how you can support our research activity please contact Beverley Taylor: 01924 543175 -