Keeping up to date through research

Patients cared for in research-active hospitals have better outcomes – and those that are able to take part find it rewarding and reassuring.

A study published in 2015 confirmed the link between research and better care that many experts had noted themselves. And Dr Jason Raw, Principal Clinical Research Lead at Fairfield General Hospital and Rochdale Infirmary, firmly believes that patients want to be treated at hospitals that are plugged into the latest developments in medicine.

In his experience as a Consultant Geriatrician, patients love being involved and see being offered research opportunities as a marker of a high quality service. “If you’re a new patient with a new diagnosis and you see research being promoted when you come to your appointment, you will feel you’re at the right place, that the people you’re seeing have the most up to date knowledge of your condition,” he said.

“An ideal hospital site would have clinicians from each specialty involved in research. It’s exciting for staff and patients to be involved at the start of a new treatment,”

Dr Raw joined Pennine Acute 11 years ago, inheriting an on-going research study from a retiring colleague and quickly discovering that he found it one of the most rewarding parts of his new job.

His busy clinical practice, including ward rounds on four differently themed wards and three outpatient clinics a week as well as managing more than 500 patients with Parkinson’s disease in the community, means it can be a challenge to juggle his time.

But he emphasises that the research team – including dedicated research nurses – is there to help clinicians find the time and support so they can get a toehold in the world of clinical research. “In research, small blocks of time can be really valuable and you can achieve more than you’d think in 15 minutes. It’s also a rewarding diversion from your day to day work – I would find life much duller without it,” he added.

In his role as joint Principal Clinical Research lead, Dr Raw is keen to support colleagues to get involved in research and to raise the profile of Fairfield’s new Clinical Trials Unit.

His own research is mainly centred on Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological condition which affects about 127,000 people in the UK. Among the 10-12 current studies at Pennine Acute, he’s particularly excited by tests for an injectable form of treatment, a study looking at the use of statins for Parkinson’s patients, and research into slowing down the progression of the disease.

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