Through the emergency department trials, patients get the opportunity to benefit from the latest medical advances, improving their care and long-term recovery. Since October 2010, a team of research nurses with experience in emergency nursing have led research across the Trust - at Newham, Whipps Cross and The Royal London hospitals. Tim Harris, Professor of Emergency Medicine, explained: “Research in emergency medicine is vital. It develops strong evidence for treatments and improves outcomes for our patients, both current and future. “We see patients with a wide range of illnesses, and firmly believe that clinical research opportunities should be available to all patients at every stage of their care.” From arrival in the emergency department, the research team work with clinicians to assess and match patients to a range of different clinical trials included in the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network Portfolio and then offer patients, where possible, the opportunity to take part.
The research team follow patients throughout their time in the hospital, collating information about their clinical progress to feedback to the research centres. This information enables clinicians and scientists to assess new therapies, gain further insight into the human body’s response to trauma and acute illness, and improve care for future patients.
Emergency department patients are some of the most vulnerable in hospital. Patients are often suffering from life-threatening illnesses or injuries following severe trauma, such as a car crash or fall from a height.
Patients at Barts Health NHS Trust have been enrolled in several trials researching a range of conditions including self-harm, asthma, severe sepsis (infection), pain management, fractures and stroke.
Jason Pott, Lead Emergency Department Research Nurse, added: “This milestone marks a fantastic achievement. We are incredibly grateful to our 1,000 patients for their support. Our success is also very much down to the enthusiasm of colleagues, the doctors and nurses in the emergency departments, who play a vital role in helping us to recruit our patients.”
Patient case study
David Martin, 28, from Hackney, is patient number 1,000. He is credited with helping the team to reach this important milestone, when in July 2014 he was enrolled in two trials as part of his care following a serious head injury.
David was admitted to The Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, after being knocked unconscious in a fall from his bike in Bloomsbury on 24 July 2014. His head injury was so severe that he has no memory of the accident, or the ten days that followed.
Having found bleeding in his brain caused by the injury, the research team enrolled David into a trial of a medicine called tranexamic acid* which it is thought may reduce further bleeding and decrease the risk of disability and death. To ensure that the study remains fair, David is unaware if he received the actual medicine, or a placebo.
David explained: “It’s quite exciting being part of new research, and it gives you the opportunity to access care that you wouldn’t otherwise get.
“I trust the doctors and scientists, and there wouldn’t be any medical progress if people didn’t take these opportunities.
“I have been very lucky and must thank the strangers who found me and called an ambulance, as well as the wonderful efforts and expertise of the team at The Royal London Hospital - they saved my life. I shall never forget their kindness.”
David is also benefiting from another trial running at Barts Health NHS Trust looking at whether people recovering from a brain injury can benefit from being cared for by a clinician who is trained in both neurology (how the nervous system works) and occupational therapy (helps the body to recover from injury). This specialised care means that instead of needing to attend two separate appointments with different consultants, David is given a complete assessment in just one appointment.