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


Home > News > Vital research work at our hospitals

Vital research work at our hospitals

Posted on Monday 11th February 2013
WCH staff

Some of the Research & Development team from West Cumberland Hospital

The work of the Research & Development Department at North Cumbria University Hospitals is being highlighted to encourage more patients to consider clinical research trials.

The R&D Department works together with clinical teams in various specialties, including medicine, surgery and support services to deliver trials in key areas including oncology, gastroenterology and cardiovascular disease. The Trust also contributes to studies in women’s health (both obstetrics and gynaecology); dermatology; renal disease; ear, nose and throat surgery; and musculoskeletal conditions.

Both the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital have teams of research practitioners who assist clinical teams with setting up and running studies. R&D staff discuss potential studies with patients and gain their informed consent – an essential part of clinical research.

The teams now have uniforms to help patients identify them from other hospital staff – dark blue scrub tops with light blue edging. Research & Development Manager Leon Jonker explained: “Thus far the feedback is really positive, because staff and patients alike now recognise the outfits, rather than R&D staff being mistaken for doctors or ‘random strangers’. Also, although most of the work is office based, the staff carry out some clinical procedures such as taking blood samples, so from an infection control perspective this is also an improvement.”

On average, each year approximately 1,000 patients are recruited into research studies at North Cumbria University Hospitals.

Large studies which some of our patients are currently participating in include:

  • REVEAL, a multinational study involving a total of 30,000 patients, organised by the University of Oxford. This clinical trial evaluates one of the newest medicines aimed at reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes by acting on cholesterol
  • The genetics of otitis media, also organised by the University of Oxford. This study looks into genetics factors, i.e. factors that may run in families, that may make some children more susceptible to inflammation of the ear (known as otitis media)
  • SEAFOOD, a trial organised by the University of Leeds, which looks into the effect of fish oil on the occurrence of polyps, small unwanted growths in the bowel.

Dr Jonker added: “Through clinical research we aim to gain a better understanding of illnesses, improve current treatments and introduce new treatments, and find out how to best help people cope with their illness.”

A new leaflet has been produced by the R&D Department, explaining why clinical trials are so important, what they involve and why patients might want to take part. These will shortly be available in departments across both hospitals.

Patients interested in participating in clinical research should discuss this with the clinician treating them in the first instance.