A Faculty of Research and Clinical Education (FORCE) has been launched by Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust today – on International Clinical Trials Day – as it works with patients and staff to increase the availability of research and learning to improve public health across the borough.
With a race against time to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, awareness around research has been heightened over the past couple of months and a number of patients across the borough are already taking part in Covid-19 research studies.
The establishment of this faculty means the culture of research and professional development in the trust can be strengthened while involving more patients to help shape and improve care.
Dr Marie Lewis, Associate Director for Research and Professional Development for Walsall Healthcare, explained the importance of creating a faculty.
“Research and education are key to providing evidence-based care,” she said.
“Trusts that actively participate in research demonstrate better clinical outcomes, promote learning as an organisation and build a strong reputation as a place to work and be cared for. Our trust’s ambition is to be rated as Outstanding by the CQC by 2022 and research, learning and improvement are vital elements within this ambition.
“By creating a faculty we can better support staff and patients to access research, training and development. Our FORCE combines the skills and expertise of our research team with the skills and expertise of our Professional Development Unit so that education and research are a partnership that supports staff to move along a pathway to excellence.
“Research is on the radar a lot at the moment because of the pandemic but traditionally it can be an area that many think requires a high level of academic knowledge or clinical skill and they may have shied away from finding out more. But research projects come in all shapes and sizes and can be applied to all of our working experiences – from our porters to our paediatric consultants. One of the fundamental principles of research is asking “Why?”
“Research and education are everyone’s business and should form a part of everyone’s job role so that we can promote learning and improvement across our trust. The Faculty of Research and Clinical Education will work alongside the Quality Improvement faculty and clinical teams to provide the necessary tools for staff to achieve this.”
International Clinical Trials Day celebrates those patients and teams involved in important research and aims to encourage more patients to take part.
Mr Fahad Hossain, Consultant in Trauma and Orthopaedics is Walsall Healthcare’s Director of Research and Development. He said Walsall patients were currently involved in three main Covid-19 research studies, with three more studies in the pipeline.
He said: “ A lot of hard work has gone into fast tracking our governance process to set up studies more speedily; reducing this from 19 days to seven. All credit to our research team, Dr Atul Garg, Intensive Care Consultant and Divisional Lead for Quality Improvement and Research, Pharmacy, medical students redeployed into research, the clinical research network and our nursing staff.”
Walsall Healthcare has had to temporarily halt its existing trials to focus on COVID-19 trials as follows:
The Randomised Evaluation of COVID Therapy (RECOVERY) trial led by Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health at Oxford University, focuses on existing and new drugs which may help hospitalised patients with confirmed COVID-19 and has recruited more than 6,000 patients in 165 NHS hospitals around the country. In Walsall 57 patients to date are taking part in this trial.
The ISARIC study is being supported by medical students and is focusing on detailed clinical data of patients – with 527 patients taking part
The GenOMICCs trial, facilitated by the University of Edinburgh and multiple NHS hospitals, will explore the varied effects COVID-19 has on patients, supporting the search for treatments by identifying those most at risk and helping to fast-track new therapies into clinical trials. Since genetic discoveries need very large numbers of patients, the GenOMICC study ultimately aims to recruit every single COVID-19 patient who is admitted to intensive care in the UK. Walsall has currently recruited 14 patients to this trial.
Marie added: “We want patients, staff and carers to feel confident enough to ask us about trials and suggest ideas for future studies. Our trust wants to develop new and innovative ways of working and engagement from our local communities is key to making this happen”.