01 July 2016
One of the NHS’s most senior research directors has paid tribute to the work being done at Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust to get patients onto clinical trials with the aim of improving the care we provide.
Dr Susan Hamer, national workforce lead for the Clinical Research Network (CRN) and Director of Nursing with the National Institute for Health Research, said the Trust’s practice of using a special team of clinical mental health research nurses to recruit patients was an example of the very best practice and one that should be rolled out more widely.
Identifying individuals who might be willing and suitable to take part in clinical studies is an intensive and time-consuming part of any research programme.
At C&I, however, there is a bespoke team of Clinical Research Nurses whose role is to provide support in research studies by helping to recruit and consent participants, conduct research interviews and gather data.The Clinical Research Network (CRN) currently funds 12 Clinical Research Nurses at C&I, which has grown considerably from the three employed in 2013 when the team was set up.
Deputy Director of Nursing and Research, Dr Fiona Nolan, said: “The benefit of this unique approach is that our clinical researchers are registered healthcare professionals, who are trained in supporting people with mental illness. They have years of experience of working in the mental health system and have finely honed people skills. This allows them to develop a better connection with our service users, which can make them feel more at ease, more likely to take part in studies and to have a better experience when taking part”.
During her visit, Dr Hamer met Research Nurse Manager, Nick Green, Director of Nursing and People, Claire Johnston, and several members of the research team.
Dr Nolan told Dr Hamer about the important work going on at the Trust to promote a greater awareness and participation in research work among nursing and allied professional staff.
She said: “It is really important that staff effectively interpret research evidence to improve patient care in their day-to-day activities and that they are aware of the opportunities that exist for some to become research leaders. My role is to support them to achieve this and to create opportunities for them to engage with research as part of their career pathway”.
Dr Hamer said: “It’s an important part of my job to go out once a month to shadow colleagues in organisations whose research programmes are supported by NIHR funding. It gives me an insight into how our funding is being used, as well as the opportunity to look at areas we might wish to develop in the future.
“Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust is particularly known for innovation and research. Mental health is an important growth area for us in the NIHR and we are always looking for good practice areas that can be rolled out more widely.”
She added: “This organisation has chosen to use clinically-qualified staff in its research team and this is definitely paying off as evidenced by the numbers of participants recruited to studies, and the career paths of the team members.
“If you have high quality research staff you raise the standard of care across the board.”
The Trust’s research programme is an important part of the new Clinical Strategy a key part of which is to support research and quality improvement.
About C&I We provide mental health and substance misuse services to people living in Camden and Islington, and a substance misuse and psychological therapies service to residents in Kingston.
We have two inpatient facilities, at Highgate Mental Health Centre and St Pancras Hospital, as well as community based services throughout the London boroughs of Camden and Islington. Our Trust is also a member of University College London Partners (UCLP), one of the world’s leading academic health science partnerships.
We provide services for adults of working age, adults with learning difficulties, and older people in the London area either in a community or inpatient setting.
Our income for 2016/16 was £138million and we have approximately 1,700 staff. Our staff work in multi-disciplinary teams providing a holistic approach to recovery. This means that we often work with partner agencies and the voluntary sector.
Camden and Islington Mental Health and Social Care Trust was stablished in 2002. In March 2008 we became the first Care Trust to achieve Foundation Trust status and are licensed by NHS Improvement.