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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS

Home > About us > Research and development

Research and development

Our Trust is committed to Research & Development as a means to evaluate the success of treatments, surgery and procedures and also to link up with some of the world-leading universities. There is a team of highly skilled and motivated research staff, including research nurses and research practitioners plus admin support, assisting clinical teams with the set-up and conduct of studies.

The Trust has been, and currently is, involved in large observational studies and patient surveys, and genetics studies to look into the causes of diseases and disorders. Furthermore, we assist organisations like universities, pharmaceutical companies and large academic hospitals with recruitment and follow-up of patients in clinical trials of new medicines and new medical devices.

Clinical research

Clinical research activity at the Trust has grown considerably since the R&D Department was initiated in the Trust.  This coincides with the inception of a cluster of regional research organisations by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Our Trust falls within the remit of the Clinical Research Network North East & North Cumbria (CRN NENC), https://www.crn.nihr.ac.uk/north-east-and-north-cumbria/, which forms part of a Department of Health initiative. At our Trust, annual recruitment of patients into NIHR National Portfolio studies has increased to an annual average of over 1,200 patients per year.

Our Trust is committed to delivering the objectives of the NIHR and regional CRN to continue to increase patient equality in terms of access to clinical trials, eradicating the historic postcode lottery where patients who attended district general hospitals were at a disadvantage compared to those patients who attend tertiary centres and large academic hospitals.

Clinical research involving the latest treatments and collaborations with world-leading Universities such as Oxford University, Cambridge University and University College London, to name a few, takes place in our Trust. As mentioned, clinical research can involve searching for causes of a disease, or actively trying new treatments or protocols for curing or managing diseases. Both types of studies take place in our Trust; the total number of different studies ongoing at any given time now totals over 100.

Research performance

The NIHR is keen to improve research activity in all NHS Trusts; this involves both the speed at which studies get up and running and the number of patients recruited into research studies. As an NHS provider holding National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) contracts, we are required, every quarter, to publish the 70-day benchmark for clinical trial initiation and our performance on recruitment to time and target for commercial contract clinical trials (from 1 April 2014).

Performance in terms of setting up research studies and recruiting the first patients can be checked via the links below:

Research activity in terms of the total number of patients recruited into NIHR National Portfolio studies per annum can be monitored via the NIHR.

Activity levels – based on financial years – can be checked via the NIHR/Guardian newspaper website, also available via this link.  

Our Research and Development Department

The increase in research activity has been made possible by the creation of the R&D Department in early 2009, funded primarily by the CRN. Guided by the Clinical R&D Lead, Dr Jim George, and R&D Manager, Ms Jan Smith, there is now a team of researchers who assist clinical teams with the set up and running of studies. The focus is very much on so-called NIHR National Portfolio studies – a list of studies delivered in different NHS trusts can be found via this link: https://www.crn.nihr.ac.uk/can-help/patients-carers-public/find-a-clinical-research-study/

Both hospitals in Carlisle and Whitehaven have research staff working on site to discuss studies with patients and gaining their consent – an essential aspect of the clinical research process. All research takes place in accordance with the Data Protection Act, Human Tissue Act and Good Clinical Practice, and research ethics clearance is obtained where required. Currently, studies are open in various disease areas, including cancer, cardiology, vascular surgery, stroke, gastroenterology, obstetrics, dermatology and arthritis. Patients interested in participating in clinical research should discuss this with their treating clinician in the first instance.

Regional projects

Besides the involvement in national and international studies, our clinicians and support staff are from time to time involved in local and regional projects, in collaboration with regional higher education institutions such as University of Cumbria, Newcastle University and Lancaster University. Some local work leads to publications of articles in international peer-reviewed scientific journals. Involvement in research helps our staff in the Trust to keep abreast of the latest literature in their specialist field and ultimately aids to improve patient care by applying evidence-based medicine and surgery. See the website PubMed for a list of local studies: local research publications.

Research & Development contacts

Research Office
Jan Smith
Research & Development Manager

Yvette Harkness
Research Administrator / PA

01228 616854
Researchoffice@ncuh.nhs.uk

Research Team Leaders
Anna McSkeane, Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle
01228 814697
Anna.mcskeane@ncuh.nhs.uk

Una Poultney, West Cumberland Hospital
01946 523410
Una.poultney@ncuh.nhs.uk