Case study: Engaging NMAHPS in commercial research
Engaging Nursing, Midwifery & Allied Health Professionals in commercial research
It is widely known that commercial research is a way to provide access to new and innovative treatments to our patients, however attracting and retaining partnerships with clinicians and commercial organisations is challenging. South Warwickshire University NHS Foundation Trust, a relatively small general hospital has managed to find innovative ways to do this.
The Trust serves the South Warwickshire population including community services and has a relatively small research portfolio. The main areas of research historically are: Critical Care, Diabetes, Cancer and Family Health.
In 2021 the Trust successfully opened its first commercial ophthalmology study after many years looking at the treatment of specific drugs for neovascular age related macular degeneration. The study has been open since November and has successfully recruited three participants. It is on track to meet its target at the site, thanks to the input and enthusiasm of the Research and Development team and the Principal Investigator, Mr Samer Elsherbiny, an Ophthalmology Consultant.
Traditionally, it is medical doctors who act as Principal Investigators and are the main point of contact for commercial organisations. This is usually due to the interventional nature of the research projects and the stringent regulations in place. When a commercial study came along which was non-interventional, the Trust saw an opportunity to buck the trend and submitted successful expression of interest with a non-medic as Principal Investigator.
In addition, in April 2022 the Trust’s Dietitians opened their first study as Co-Investigators providing a plant-based option for those patients requiring tube feeding. The team has a second study in set–up which is on track to open in the Autumn. This goes one step further as the project is an interventional study but is not classified as a Clinical Trial of an Investigational Medicinal Product by the regulators.
This has provided a fantastic opportunity for Charlotte Lennon, Louise Lewis and Lyndsey Chandler at the Trust, fully supported by Anne Davidson, the Department Manager and other members of the team.
Charlotte (pictured) says: “The Home Enteral Feeding Dietitians are very excited to be participating in the current and upcoming research with Nutricia regarding new tube feeding products.
“It gives us a great opportunity to get involved in shaping the future of products available to us, as well as support some of our patients to try products that fit within their ethical principles and values”.
The Trust has a proven track record in using non-medic Principal Investigators for non-commercial research and relished the opportunity to extend these practices to commercial Projects.
Jo Williams, Head of Research & Development at the Trust, adds: “Over the years we have been building on our engagement with non-medics acting as Principal investigators in a range of studies across the trust and community.
“More recently we have been having conversations about extending this engagement by working with our Senior Nursing teams and our Band 5 nurses - watch this space.
“As a department we struggled to set-up and run commercial studies but with the enthusiasm and tremendous knowledge base from our Dietitians, we are looking forward to expanding our portfolio of commercial studies to other departments over the next few years!”