NHS trusts ‘drive breakthroughs’

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“Vital” clinical research helping to drive medical breakthroughs is being delivered by every NHS Trust in the country, a league table published today reveals.

And the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) table shows that more than 60 per cent of trusts across the country, including Clinical Commissioning Groups, last year increased the number of studies they were carrying out.

In Yorkshire, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is the fifth-highest nationally for an increase in the number of research studies in 2015/16.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals is third in the country for the volume of studies and fifth for the volume of commercial research.

More than 600,000 people across England participated in research in the NHS in last year.

Professor Simon Heller, director of research and development at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said: “Clinical research is vital in helping to drive improvements in healthcare, and by increasing the number of research studies we offer to patients our doctors and clinicians can shed new light on diseases and test new technologies and treatments that could pave the way for the next medical breakthrough.”

The trust conducted 371 studies this year compared to 327 last year – a 13.46 per cent rise.

It has previously hit the headlines when a ground-breaking stem cell treatment for patients with multiple sclerosis was featured on the BBC’s Panorama. The treatment, which is called autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation, has been shown to reverse the effects of the disease in a small number of patients who have failed to respond to standard therapies.

Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust recorded an increase of 32.73 per cent in the number of studies carried out in 2015/16 compared to 2014/15.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust had the highest number of studies – 477 – across Yorkshire and the Humber. It also has the highest number of commercial studies in its portfolio, with 87.

Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which deals with mental health, had the highest percentage increase in the number studies in that field across the Yorkshire and the Humber, with a 62 per cent rise.

Some have sought to carry out new research because of personal reasons.

Sahdia Parveen, a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Bradford, grew up with a grandmother who had vascular dementia and a grandfather with cancer.

Dr Parveen said: “Although we knew what cancer was and we discussed it in our south Asian community, we’d never heard of dementia.

“It was noticeable how, while my grandfather had numerous hospital appointments and medicines, my grandmother had nothing.”

While studying for her Master’s in Clinical Psychology, the role cultural obligation plays in care became a key area of interest to Dr Parveen. Now she is principal investigator on the Caregiving HOPE study, which researches whether attitudes to dementia affects people’s willingness to care for family.

Ian Thompson, 69, from Pontefract, is taking part in a NIHR-supported study to investigate whether a particular drug works against high cholesterol.

He said: “Research gave me my life back after retirement. I wanted to repay, in my own small way, the doctors who had treated me after I had a heart attack.”

The NIHR’s Clinical Research Network created the league table.