The League of Friends (LoF) is committed to supporting education in all matters related to the hospital, and to promoting research and disseminating the results. Therefore, when the LoF was asked by consultant Nurse, Ian Evans (above left), if it was interested in funding a research practitioner to participate in a variety of research studies at South Petherton Hospital, the answer was a resounding “yes”. For International Clinical Trials Day on 20 May 2016, the hospital opened its doors to show the public the research studies it’s involved in, and to explain why.
When South Petherton Community Hospital reopened in 2011 as a stroke specialist unit, Ian Evans saw the opportunity for the hospital to develop a research ethos that could influence the future of stroke care in the NHS. To enable the hospital to participate in stroke related research studies, Ian produced a case for a research practitioner to be employed for one day a week. He invited the League of Friends to fund the role, which they accepted and have been funding ever since. Initially the hospital was involved in a single research trial, but over the last few years – thanks in part to the ongoing support and encouragement of the LoF – the hospital has participated in seven studies. The research practitioner undertakes a range of activities, including recruiting patients for national studies and undertaking interventions with patients in the hospital, the results of which will be sent to the university research centre leading the study.
Speech and language therapist, Sarah Dunne, is the current research practitioner, and she discussed three of the research studies at the International Clinical Trials Day 2016:
- PLORAS (Predicting Language Outcome and Recovery After Stroke: The aim of the study is to provide a clinical protocol that will predict language outcome and recovery after a person has a stroke. The project rests on a database that records three types of information from many hundreds of stroke participants: language scores, structural MRI, and demographic information. Critical lesion sites for aphasic symptoms are identified by linking structural MRI and language scores. A combination of the data types then enters the PLORAS system, which predicts recovery from aphasia in new participants. More about this study can be found at the Institute of Neurology at University College London, www.ucl.ac.uk/ploras
- TIME (Treatment In Morning vs Evening): This research explores hypersensitive subjects of all ages, comparing evening dosing of usual anti-hypersensitive therapy (blood pressure tablets) with conventional morning dosing. The University of Dundee is leading the research, www.TimeStudy.co.uk
- Pressure 2: A trial of two mattresses: The aim of this study is to determine the clinical and cost effectiveness of High Specification Foam mattresses and Alternating Pressure Mattresses for the prevention of Category 2 pressure ulcers when used in conjunction with an electric profiling bed frame for patients with evidence of acute illness in secondary and community in-patient facilities. University of Leeds is leading this research study.
Due to the success of the hospital’s involvement with research thus far, as well as continuing to participate in the studies of others, Ian Evans and his colleagues are considering undertaking their own research in the future, specifically the scientific investigation of the impact on the patient of a stroke coordinator.
We aim to improve patient care by offering every patient the opportunity to take part in high quality clinical trials and for research and clinical care to be delivered hand in hand.
On International Clinical Trials Day the NHS’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) promotes its ‘OK to Ask’ campaign in order to encourage patients and the public to ask healthcare professionals about medical research, and whether taking part in clinical trials is right for them. As such, the large number of visitors to the event, including patients and members of the LoF, were all actively engaged in discussions with the medical team about the high-quality clinical research being undertaken.
The Somerset Partnership encourages patients and members of the public to think about taking part in research, which can involve:
- Taking part in activities that you may find helpful with your condition
- Understanding your condition better
- Helping researchers to develop new treatments and ways of working for the benefit of future generations
- Receiving new treatments that are not yet widely available
- Feeling that you are giving something back to the NHS.
For more information on participating in research, contact Somerset Partnership Foundation Trust Research Department on 01278 432039.