In the latest blog in our Delivering research for all series, Dr Tina Dutt discusses why she became involved with medical research and her top tips for those who want to do the same.
When I was appointed as an NHS haematology consultant around 5 years ago, recruitment to haematology studies was low. The specialty had traditionally been under-resourced and clinical research was perceived as distinct from patient care. In a challenging NHS environment, clinical haematology studies were not a priority.
Although I had successfully completed a BSc and PhD during my training, obtaining an Medical Research Council fellowship, British Heart Foundation grant and Bayer scholarship, I had minimal experience as an active clinical researcher or principal investigator of clinical trials. As a new consultant, this was foreign territory, requiring work not only outside my comfort zone, but also beyond my ever-increasing clinical responsibilities.
I believed, however that we could and should be delivering important clinical research opportunities for patients hand-in-hand with high-quality clinical care. Research can enable life-changing or life-saving opportunities for patients and I was determined to make this difference as an NHS clinician keen to integrate research into routine clinical practice.
I worked hard to forge productive relationships with the Clinical Research Network (CRN) team and our industry partners. I also built a ‘research-positive’ culture within my unit holding regular recruitment updates for the clinical team. This produced an inclusive research-friendly environment where everyone was encouraged to share the fruits of their labour.
We concentrated on making small but effective changes to streamline the clinical research and recruitment process for patients and the clinical team. For example, we created research information packs detailing all available trials to inform recruiting doctors/nurses and patients of their options. To optimise recruitment to trials, we also ensured the presence of a dedicated research nurse in clinics.
We now provide a diversity of research opportunities for patients with rare disease and vulnerable patient groups with chronic conditions such as haemophilia, thrombophilia, TTP and sickle cell disease. Patients have personally fed back that such opportunities have been life-changing in their overall care.
Dr Tina Dutt is the clinical research lead for The Roald Dahl Haemostasis and Thrombosis Centre at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, and NIHR Specialty Research Group lead for clinical haematology on the North West coast. You can follow her on twitter at @TinaDuttDr.
Interested in sharing your own experience of research? Email email@example.com