Making the patient central: Mark Stafford-Watson Public Contributor and PPI Champion

Article by Martin Simpson-Scott, PPI Coordinator NIHR CLAHRC Wessex
Mark Stafford-Watson

Mark Stafford-Watson is one of our NIHR CLAHRC Wessex public contributors. He’s also ‘PPI Champion’ for our Theme 1 research team (Integrated Respiratory Care) – of particular personal relevance to Mark, as he has a long-term respiratory condition.

While he’s our Champion for this specific theme, he’s helped us on many initiatives across a number of our themes. In describing the PPI programme, Mark says that patient and public involvement contributors “…have real value, and can make changes”.

Mark was appointed to the role of PPI Champion for Theme 1 by CLAHRC Wessex, by virtue of his background, skills and experience. As one of our champions, he’s part of the WISeRD Advisory Group which he also co-chairs. Comprising key staff members too, it’s a group that basically helps us ensure PPI is embedded throughout the organisation. The group meets every 3 months, and through his involvement, Mark helps us make sure our activities remain meaningful, documented and accessible to patients and the public.

With a particular interest in helping us reach out to seldom heard groups in the area, Mark has also helped involve new organisations in our work – specifically, groups like The Refugee Council and The Thomas Pocklington Trust have participated in some of our research prioritisation and project work, on the back of Mark’s involvement. A sounding board for a number of our researchers and clinicians, he’s someone who’s always been available to advise, or to inject some common sense where needed.

Mark very aptly describes his role with us as “making the patient central to the overall discussion”… though if anyone asks him directly what he does, he’ll say he “drinks coffee and talks to people, whether they’re patients, academics or clinicians”

For CLAHRC Wessex, his involvement – like the involvement of all of our PPI contributors is critically important, whether it be a large or a small role they play.

Mark has won an award for his work from HSRUK (Health Services Research UK)


He has also been involved in the writing of many related articles looking at the role of PPI:
Involving people in health research – Why we do it, and why you should too.
Prioritising the fundamentals of care with patients, professionals, carers and the public – Anya de Iongh
Involving patients and the public in research: Reflecting back and looking ahead
NHS spending is less transparent and accountable in more deprived areas – Claire Reidy, University of Southampton


The NHS and research organisations often use jargon and shorthand terms for things. Here are just a few definitions which should help.

NIHR is the National Institute for Health Research, sometimes nicknamed the research part of the NHS.

CLAHRC‘s are a group of research organisations spread across different regions of England that specialise in bringing research into everyday practice, not just in the NHS, but in various organisations in a community. Their aim is to improve the health, wealth and wellbeing of people in their region. CLAHRC stands for Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care.

PPI means Patient and Public Involvement. It is designed to involve those people in the design and running of research. They can advise, review and effectively link researchers with the public.

WISeRD stands for Wessex Involvement in Service Research and Delivery.

For an outline of PPI we’ve made this short video

What is PPI from NIHR CLAHRC Wessex on Vimeo.


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