Health regulator in public consultation to revamp patient engagement

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is to overhaul the way it engages with patients and the wider public, with a consultation taking place over the next three months.

The MHRA's consultation on how it communicates with people will end in autumn
The MHRA's consultation on how it communicates with people will end in autumn

In a document launching the consultation on how to best engage patients and the public, the MHRA stated: "The responses will help inform the MHRA’s future engagement with patients and the public."

The move is aimed at helping the MHRA "adopt a more systematic approach to listening to and involving patients" and ensure "that the patient voice is more clearly heard when safety issues, concerning medicines or medical devices, are identified and in the licensing of new medicines".

In addition, it will look at how patients and the public would like the MHRA to communicate with them, as well as how they can raise concerns with the regulator.

Patients, healthcare professionals, carers and patient group representatives are the target audiences of the new consultation, which closes on Monday 7 October 2019.

The MHRA is planning to do more to "communicate about who we are and the results of our work," as part of its aim to "increase public awareness and understanding of the work that we do", according to the consultation document.

Digital options

Currently, the regulator relies on its website, media coverage and social media for the bulk of its communication with patients and the public. 

Direct engagement is through public meetings of the MHRA board, as well as the regulator attending conferences and events, and via the MHRA’s Patient Group Consultative Forum which has more than 100 members.

In the future, the MHRA is considering doing more digitally led comms, depending on the outcome of the consultation. These could range from regular email bulletins/infographics, webcasts of relevant public meetings, and YouTube videos explaining the agency’s work, to podcasts explaining specific aspects of its work.

"We want to do more to involve patients and the public in our work, including early in the regulatory decision-making process," the consultation document states.

Dr Ian Hudson, chief executive, MHRA, said: "It is important that the MHRA continues to evaluate and improve how we can best communicate and engage with patients and the public."

And Rachel Bosworth, director of communications, MHRA, commented: "We recognise the need for a step-change in our approach to engaging with and involving patients in the MHRA’s work."

She added: "The responses to the consultation will inform this work and help us to identify what our priorities should be for patient engagement and involvement in the future."

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