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Our research

Our research

The staff of East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust carry out research across a whole range of areas from clinical trials that test new drugs and treatments, developing new treatments and techniques and engaging with patients and carers to improve their experience of treatment. We are the biggest recruiter in Kent to National Institutes for Health Research (NIHR) Portfolio studies, which are supported by funding from the Clinical Research Network Kent, Surrey and Sussex. We also work closely with researchers in other hospitals and universities as well as developing our own research in a diverse and wide range of areas including occupational and physio- therapies to ophthalmology and advanced neuroimaging.




Cancer

The Trust is a member of the Kent Cancer Research Network and a major recruiter into clinical trials covering all types of cancer. Clinical trials are now available locally for the majority of tumour types and referral pathways have been agreed across Trusts in Kent and Medway to maximise treatment opportunities for cancer patients. This involves testing new treatments as part of national trials.

If you would like further information on the research being carried out by Cancer Services please contact Sue Drakeley sue.drakeley@nhs.net

Cardiology

Cardiology is the area of medicine concerned with the heart and circulatory system. The cardiology department is involved in an international randomised controlled looking at the use of a drug that stops blood clotting either given on route to hospital or on arrival in patients who have had a heart attack (ATLANTIC trial). This study successfully integrated co-operative research involving ambulance services and secondary care in the field of interventional cardiology.

If you would like further information on the research being carried out by the Cardiology Department please contact Konrad Grosser at konradgrosser@nhs.net

Child Health

The Department of Child Health manages conditions affecting children. The department has a special interest in the management of children with epilepsy and ADHD.  The department is also running two research studies looking at intervention for parents/carers of young children with developmental disability.:the development and evaluation of a psychoeducational resource for children and young people with cerebral palsy to enable better understanding of their condition, and a treatment trial using hypnosis with children and young people who wet the bed.

If you would like more information on the research work of the Department of Child Health please contact Dr Banerjee at somnath.banerjee@nhs.net

Haemophilia

Haemophilia is a disorder of the blood that prevents it clotting leading to excessive bleeding. The Haemophilia Centre at Canterbury treats many young people affected by this disabilitating condition and is leading on a multi-centre study investigating physicalperformance outcomes in young children with haemophilia with funding from a 3-year NIHR Clinical Lectureship for Allied Health Professionals grant. The research  will help identify factors associated with impaired physical function which may be preventable or modifiable with medical treatment and physiotherapy intervention. It will also look at the progression of the disease and damage to the joints and the effects of treatment. The Haemophilia Centre is also a recruitment site for an international NIHR CRN Portfolio study (AHEAD) which is an observational study to describe the joint health outcomes of individuals with haemophilia. The department is the second highest recruiter to this study in the UK.

If you would like any more information on the research work of the Haemophilia Centre please contact Gillian Evans at gillian.evans4@nhs.net

Haematology

The haematology department deals with disorders of the blood and they are involved in clinical trials of different types of treatment for patients with haematological malignancies or cancers of blood cells and related tissues.  These include acute and chronic leukemias, lymphoma and myeloma.  The East Kent Haematology Clinical Trials (EKHCTU) unit is the most successful district general unit in the UK in recruiting patients.  As a result of this they have been cited on presentations at numerous academic meetings across the world including the plenary session of the American Society of Haematology meeting in 2010.

If you would like further information on the research work of the Haematology Department please contact Chris Pocock at c.pocock@nhs.net

Maternity

Around 1 in 5 pregnant women in the UK are obese. In addition to poor general health, obesity is

associated with pregnancy complications. Evidence suggests there is potential for influencing not only the health of the mother, but also that of her baby and the rest of her family. The HELP study is still in progress.  Midwives from East Kent are therefore involved in the national Healthy Eating and Lifestyle in Pregnancy (HELP) study to evaluate the effectiveness of  helping overweight mothers to be manage their weight and improving their health during after pregnancy and the health of their baby. The study is sponsored by Cardiff University and funded via the National Prevention Research Initiative. The Maternity Department at QEQM Hospital is one of 20 participating units and was randomised into the intervention arm of the study.

If you would like further information on the research being carried out by the Maternity Department please contact Madeleine Harris at madeleineharris@nhs.net

Neonatal medicine

Neonatal medicine treats conditions in new born babies including the management of pre-term or premature babies. The department is involved in numerous national multicentre clinical trials looking at conditions affecting pre-term infants and the possible impact on their long term health.

If you would like more information on the research being carried out by the neonatal medicine team please contact Dr Vimal Vasu  at vimal.vasu@nhs.net

Neurology

Neurology is the medical speciality dealing with disorders of the nervous system. The neurology research team is currently undertaking a  project is entitled “Psychological distress in Parkinson’s: A model of help-seeking behaviour”. This involves interviewing patients with Parkinson’s disease and their carers to better understand how the psychological aspects of the disease can be better managed. This project forms part of a part-time PhD programme at King’s College London, Institute of Psychiatry. The student, who is the researcher on the project, has successfully upgraded to PhD candidate status.

If you would like more information on the research being carried out the neurology team please contact Mike Samuel at michael.samuel@nhs.net

Neurophysiology

Neuorphysiology is the study of the function of the nervous system. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is a very common condition this is caused by compression of the median (middle) nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel at the wrist. This condition affects individuals by causing pain, numbness, tingling sensations and sometimes weakness in the fingers and may extend to shoulder and neck areas. The cause for most cases is unknown although some common conditions are associated with an increased incidence, including obesity, pregnancy, hypothyroidism, arthritis, diabetes, and trauma. Diagnosis is primarily clinical and the condition is easily recognized from the characteristic symptoms in straightforward cases but diagnostic support is provided by investigations such as nerve conduction studies and ultrasound imaging.

Dr Jeremy Bland, Consultant in Clinical Neurophysiology, has won an NHS Innovation Challenge Prize for developing an online assessment technique for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The innovative web-based screening technique uses real time artificial intelligence to analyse data input by patients, cutting the number of unnecessary appointments and tests for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The approach has demonstrated potential savings of £56,000 per year inthe East Kent catchment area. If rolled out nationally, savings to the NHSwould be in the order of £4 million per year. The project was awarded a prize of £50,000. The EKHUFT team worked in collaboration with City University London, and Manchester University.

Treatment may include splinting, local steroid injection at wrist, activity modification, physical or occupationaltherapy (controversial), medications, and surgery. Treatment with local therapeutic ultrasound has been suggested to be effective but existing trials are inconclusive. The neurophysiology team is therefore undertaking a clinical trial looking at the effectiveness of ultrasound compared with splinting.

If you would like more information on the research being carried out the neurophysiology  team please contact Jeremy Bland at jeremy.bland@nhs.net

Neurorehabilitation

Neurorehabilitation is the complex medical process which aims to aid recovery from a nervous system injury, and to minimize and/or compensate for any functional alterations resulting from it. The Trust Neurorehabilitation team has a diverse research programme in collaborations with various Universities and neurorehab centres of UK and abroad. The studies include ascertaining “patient experience” in brain injury, the use of Botox in spasticity as well as “patient choice” in MND /ALS. A number of studies are on post-stroke and multiple sclerosis spasticity including clinical trial of effectiveness, brain scan, satisfaction, mobility etc. The team also conduct  neuro-modulation (brain stimulation) studies in post-stroke inattention,  and patients in minimally conscious state.

As well as treatments the team also investigates various studies on assistive technology to improve the quality of life for those with disabilities.  These include  engineering studies to develop sophisticated sensors to detect movement of arm, brain computer interface, intelligent wheelchair to aid mobility and ,robotics to help severely disabled people from.

If you would like more information on the research being carried out by the Neurorehabilitation Team please contact msakel@nhs.net

NHS Management and Change

The NHS is subject to constant change and this impacts on staff and patients both positively and negatively. To investigate how inclusive leadership and effective communication motivate staff to assist in the introduction of new IT systems, the Jane Woolford of the management team decided to look at a recent project to change the existing email system.  The old system was approaching the end of its useful life as there were no limitations on the size of staff mailboxes thereby causing the system to fail.  This large IT project was rolled out across all sites at East Kent Hospitals by DIY method with a step by step online guide and plenty of training materials available. This was the first time that a project had been implemented in this way and senior management were unsure that this approach would work but overall the project was a success.  Her research showed that there were areas of the project that could have been managed in a more inclusive way, and most importantly that more time should have been spent communicating the purpose of the change to staff before the changeover started.   Resistance to change is inevitable but if staff are well informed and feel included in the process from start to finish a more successful outcome can be expected.

If you would like any more information on the research being carried out by the Trust management team please contact Jane Woolford at jane.woolford1@nhs.net

Ophthalmology

Ophthalmology is the treatment of diseases of the eyes and vision. Research in this area is led by Nishal Patel.  He has set up multiple international clinical trials investigating new therapies for retinal diseases at this Trust and is a chief investigator in several local and multi-centre studies for patients with these conditions that have limited treatment within the NHS setting. Mr Patel is a dedicated eye surgeon who takes pride in knowing that his patients are fully informed and kept abreast of modern investigations and treatments. He has a keen interest in developing efficient means of delivering healthcare and has demonstrated that multi-disciplinary teams work best in helping patients.

If you would like any more information on the research being carried out by the Ophthalmology department please contact Nishal Patel at nishal.patel@nhs.net

Orthodontics

Orthodontics is the study of facial growth and the management of malocclusion in children and adults. The Trust orthodontic department has an active research program looking at the effectiveness of new types of treatment and orthodontic appliances (“braces”) compared with the manufacturers claims. They have been involved in several national clinic trials and are part of the National Orthodontic Clinical Trials Network. The team also investigates the psychological impact of malocclusion and facial deformity particularly in relation to peer relationships and bullying in school and the positive effect that orthodontic can have for these individuals. Their work has been widely recognized and been awarded numerous national and international prizes and over £150,000 in grants.

If you would like any more information on the research being carried out by the Orthodontic Department please contact Andrew DiBiase at andrewdibiase@nhs.net

Paediatric Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy is the use of treatments to develop, recover, or maintain the daily living and work skills of people with a physical, mental or developmental condition. The Occupational Therapy Department works closely with parents and children with disabilities and colleagues in health, social care and education reflecting a drive towards applied research in the field of occupational therapy, mainstream school services for children, postural care for children with disabilities and parents support needs.  The department has recently received a large national grant from National Institute of Health Research for a patient benefit study evaluating a postural care education programme for parents and teachers of children with physical disabilities.

If you would like any more information on the research being carried out by the Occupational Therapy Department please contact Eve Hutton at eve.hutton@nhs.net

Palliative care

Palliative care is an area of healthcare that focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients and includes managing the end stages of terminal disease. Our local hospice teams are involved in numerous studies looking at improving the care that can be provided particularly at home, and working with patients and social teams to look at outcomes. The aim of the studies is to develop a service that can provide care for patients in the end stages of their disease in the place they and their family choose, be it a hospice or at home. The team has also engaged with patients and their carers to try and understand and ultimately breakdown the barriers that prevent patients and their families being involved in research.

If you would like any more information on the research being carried out by the Palliative Care Team please contact claire.butler1@nhs.net

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy the branch of health care concerned with the remediation of impairments and disabilities and the promotion of mobility, functional ability and quality of life. The department’s research is centred on use of optokinetic chart stimulation to directly rehabilitate the central nervous system’s balance networks in acute stroke, critical illness myopathy and traumatic brain injuries. Dramatic improvements in patient care have been noted with some cases where permanent disability would have occurred being reversed. The direct improvements in the brain‘s balance system make patients’ regaining of functional independence quicker as balance is a pre-requisite to function. A retrospective case control series carried out in 2012-2013 has demonstrated that use of optokinetic chart stimulation significantly improves recovery of upper limbs in dense acute stroke patients as well as significantly reduce wrist and hand spasticity. This has been a significant improvement in patient care as evidence has shown that upper limb rehabilitation has been a problematic area for many years, in dense acute strokes.

If you would like any more information on the research being carried out in the Physiotherapy department please contact Benjamin Chitambira at bchitambira@nhs.net

Radiology

Radiology is the branch of medicine that uses imaging techniques such as X-ray, CT and MRI for diagnosis and intervention. The research being carried out in the radiology department uses the latest techniques developed in MRI to investigate and catalogue a wide range of neurological conditions effecting the brain such depression, dementia, stroke and traumatic brain injury. The aim is to develop a comprehensive database cataloguing the effects these conditions have on the functioning of the brain.

If you would like any more information of the research being carried out by the Radiology Department please contact Miguel Bertoni at m.bertoni@nhs.net

Renal Medicine

Renal medicine or Nephrology is a specialty of medicine that concerns itself with the study of normal kidney function, kidney problems, the treatment of kidney problems and renal replacement therapy (dialysis and kidney transplantation). The Kent Kidney Research group based at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Trust has a number of different research themes.

The first theme are population studies of people with kidney disease which look at how common kidney disease is and it causes, the use of computers to assist in the management of kidney disease and examining ways to predict patient who might have worsening kidney function. We are currently undertaking two large studies to try to describe the causes acute kidney injury (AKI) which occurs when there is rapid loss of kidney function which can have very serious consequences including death. Unfortunately this is often diagnosed too late after serious damage has occurred and therefore the the aim is to  produce alert systems for doctors and allied health professionals that would be implemented in hospital and community care so AKI could be diagnosed earlier and treated.These projects involve collaboration between the Kent Kidney Research Group, The University of Kent (Prof. Simon Coulton, Prof. Jim Griffin, Ms. Jenny Billings) and Canterbury Christchurch University (Dr. Maria Kalli)

The second area of research of the Kent Kidney Research group is the use of Information Technology to Support Patient Care. The group is developing innovative ways of getting information to people caring for patients. Using current technology doctors, nurses and allied health professionals can be alerted to patient admissions, readmissions and risks of specific complications (for example falls or acute kidney injury). Using partnerships with industry we are developing secure and safe messaging systems using commonly used devices (such as iPADS) to improve patient care. These projects involve Kent research Group, The Department of Informatics at East Kent Hospitals and industry partners.

The third area of research is the use of biomarkers in the diagnosis and management of people with kidney disease. We have a research strategy linked to the understanding and prevention of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and the better management of established renal failure. A key priority has been the evaluation of kidney function in older people. In March 2008 we were awarded £107,000 by the Research for Patient Benefit Scheme of the National Institute of Health Research for a project investigating the validity of the different ways of assessing kidney function. This has involved evaluating the the use of a new marker of renal serum cystatin C amongst dialysis patients and whether it could replace the laborious, costly and inconvenient assessments of dialysis adequacy that patients currently undertake. This project was initially granted pilot funding (£5,000) by the British Renal Society and in 2006 received a further grant of £16,615 from the British Renal Society to continue this study. This study has been followed up by a multisite study, in collaboration with the Birmingham Clinical trials Unit for the  group were successful in receiving a £2 million pound award. The group have also received numerous awards and grants to look at other biomarkers of kidney disease and renal function.

As well as conducting their own research the Kent Kidney Research group also run collaborative projects with The Medway School of Pharmacy The Universities of Kent and Greenwich at Medway, including investigating the mechanisms of damage to the kidneys by certain drugs. The group is currently investigating the reasons why anti-rejection drugs might damage the kidney and the causes of infection in the bladder and kidneys particularly in those who have received a kidney transplant.

If you would like any more information on the research being carried out by the Kent Kidney Research group please contact Chris Farmer at chris.farmer1@nhs.net

Transformational Research & Practice Development

The most valuable asset in the health service is its staff. The Trust is passionate about developing and training its staff and therefore in collaboration with the England Centre of Practice for Practice Development  it has developed a research programme that’s centres on staff development and training. Areas that it is investigating health care practice change that is collaborative, inclusive and participative; the development of effective workplace cultures that are person-centred, informed by the best evidence; practice expertise, individual and team effectiveness; and the use of the workplace as the main resource for scholarly learning, development and inquiry.

If you would like any more information on the research being carried out the Trust management team please contact Kim Manley at kim.manley@nhs.net

Stroke

East Kent Stroke Research Team are the most successful recruiters to stroke studies in NIHR Portfolio in the South-East region, outside of the major hyperacute stroke centres at St. George’s and Kings College Hospitals in London

Health Care of Older People

The Health Care of Older People department (HCOOP) manages conditions affecting patients as they get older. The department carries out research into how to measure and improve quality of long-term care for older people. These include the prevention and management of falls and how to reduce the side affects of the medication.

If you would like any more information on the research being carried out by the HCOOP department please contact Yvonne Morrisey at yvonnemorrissey@nhs.net

Women’s Health

The department of Women’s Health looks at the experience and complications of patients being treated for cancer. Its is led by Andy Nordin, who’s research interests include quality of life questionnaires and cancer survivorship patient reported outcome measures. He sits on various national and international committees. Andy jointly leads the UKGOSOC surgical outcomes and complications audit project, and is the English representative on the ovarian cancer clinical committee for the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership.

If you would like any more information on the research being carried out by Women’s Health please contact Andy Nordin at anordin@nhs.net

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