The NIHR at 10 celebrations held on the 18th May 2016 should leave no doubt that patients and the public are central to the design and delivery of high quality research. Co-designing personal development opportunities with them is an important and rewarding aspect for CLAHRC NWL. The Exchange Network is how we build productive relationships, capacity and capability for involvement. The Exchange Network is a novel mechanism established with patient advisers that has evolved since 2013.The network provides regular opportunities for dialogue and learning about research, improvement and involvement. It is a growing pool of 54 members, including patients, carers, researchers, NHS managers and clinicians. We co-design and co-facilitate four meetings a year with a regular attendance of 15-25 people.  It is designed and delivered in partnership with Mark Doughty (HSJ Patient Leader) and the Centre for Patient Leadership.


The purpose of the Exchange Network is to facilitate new and effective processes that enable valued co-production. The sessions welcome individuals from all walks of life, with flexibility around commitment, allowing people to designate as much or as little time as their availability allows. The Exchange Network offers a safe space with a platform that is adaptable allowing people to test and evaluate new mechanisms for engagement and involvement for improvement purposes.

The over-arching goal of The Exchange Network is to transform relationships between healthcare professionals and patients for the purposes of improving health outcomes for individuals and collectives. The key to accomplishing this goal lies with emphasising the importance of the, purpose, processes and principles such as awareness of self-created assumptions, how we work together, asking questions, saying the unsaid and respecting opinions.  This is preserved by using the ladder of inference, being aware there is no right or wrong answer and applying action learning and coaching questions throughout the sessions. Courageous conversations are championed.

The Exchange Network is open to anybody who is open-minded and curious with a hunger to engage.  The network welcomes those whose voices are seldom heard and gives a podium to be heard and an abundance of opportunities and training.

Cherelle Augustine, a member since the design stage reports her personal reflections about this opportunity.

“In the space of a year the Exchange Network has enhanced my self-awareness, my value and understanding of co-production and utilising my wealth of knowledge as a patient and patient advocate for sickle cell awareness. Due to the Exchange Network I have been given a multitude of platforms and opportunities both professionally and personally and my confidence has grown and allowed me to shine brightly. My journey with CLAHRC NWL and the Exchange Network has truly been incredible and I look forward to what the future holds in store.”

 The Exchange Network models effective leadership.  Growing and sharing skills amongst its members by creating spaces that enable dialogue, collaborative working and the transformation of relationships. The Exchange Network has ‘Pay It Forward’ at its core. Whether people join and stay long term or short term their mind-sets and thinking are enhanced leaving resonating tools for successful co-production.

For more information about The Exchange Network and how to join or for advice on Patient and Public Involvement contact Rachel Matthews: ¦ 07889 179 034.