Research to help find a cure for deadly and debilitating diseases is not just happening in university laboratories but also here in West Norfolk and the Fens.
People living in the King’s Lynn area, South Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire are doing their bit to help the Research and Development Team at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the battle against conditions such as cancer, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
The team is taking part in more than 56 studies to support national and international researchers who are looking to into conditions like diabetes and childhood obesity; as well as the physical and emotional effects of being treated in a Critical Care Unit.
Thanks to the support of patients, the Hospital’s Research and Development Team has increased its rankings in the annual Research Activity League Tables published by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
During the last 12 months, the department has seen a 116 per cent increase in the number of patients taking part in research and 24 per cent increase in the number of studies being delivered.
Dr Antonia Hardcastle, who leads the Research and Development Team, has thanked the patients for supporting science and their local hospital. She said: “Patients are very generous to take part in these studies. We have some patients who are incredibly ill but continue to come to the hospital as they want to give something back”
Among the projects being supported by the team at the moment is Primetime, which could prevent some breast cancer patients making the daily journey to Cambridge for radiotherapy treatment. The study examines tumours and the data is analysed to see if the patient is low risk and would not need radiotherapy.
The team is also supporting a five-year study to see if the regular taking of aspirin (under controlled conditions) could prevent some cancers from returning.
During the 2016 to 2017 financial year, the Hospital’s Research and Development team have delivered 56 studies compared to the previous results of 45.
More patients are also supporting the team in their research with 803 people coming forward to take part in studies during the 2016 to 2017 year. Previously the Trust had 372 people participating.
Dr Hardcastle said: “The communication between our staff and patients is vitally important in research, as it is all about striving to find ways to increase patient care and alleviate suffering. This has been a record year for us and we are really pleased with the results but we never lose sight on what we are working towards.”
The team is also now looking to recruit Patient Research Ambassadors to support their important work.
Patient Ambassadors are volunteers who are willing to promote research but also help clinicians to focus on patient needs and improve access to studies.
Volunteers do not need a medical background but an interest in research. If you are interested in taking part contact Research Nurse Kelly.Waterfield@qehkl.nhs.uk
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Picture: Antonia Hardcastle, who leads the Research and Development Team at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Victoria Fear)