Clinical Research Office. A partnership between Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Sheffield

Research conference showcases healthcare innovation in region

NEARLY 200 healthcare professionals, scientists and clinicians from across the Sheffield region have gathered for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals’ first ever research and innovation conference.

The conference, which was organised by the Trust’s Clinical Research and Innovation Office, took place on Thursday 20 September and showcased the quality and diversity of research and innovation that takes place across the Trust.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals was recently named as a top ten UK NHS Trust in national league table compiled by the National Institute for Health Research highlighting high-performing research-active NHS Trusts.

The showcase event was opened by Professor Heller, Research and Development Director for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, who welcomed delegates by emphasising the importance of clinical research and the vital difference it makes to healthcare, both now and in the future.

Professor Dame Pamela Shaw, Director of the National Institute for Health Research Sheffield Biomedical Research Centre, delivered a keynote speech focusing on the progress the Biomedical Research Centre had made in its first year, including its industry collaborations and the wide ranging impact of its research.

The benefits of collaborative working between Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and the city’s two universities were then explored in a number of oral presentations. These were presented by professionals across the Trust who had submitted abstracts as part of a highly competitive submission process run by the Clinical Research and Innovation Office over the summer.

Themes discussed included: a treatment planning tool based on a virtual coronary intervention, a blood test to detect melanoma relapses early, a new breakthrough treatment for multiple sclerosis, the developing role of allied health professionals in clinical research, and the feasibility of a fully automated classification system for patients with memory complaints.

Delegates also had the chance to talk and meet with representatives from a wide range of organisations who support academics and health professionals during all steps of the research process, from initial concept through to delivery of large-scale trials, and view a poster exhibition.

An overview of the Sheffield Hospitals Charity small grant award scheme was then given by Hilary Shenton, Deputy Chair and Chair of Research for the Charity, and the ‘Best Poster’ prize was presented to Angel Jimenez-Aranda, Digital Technology Lead at the National Institute for Health Research’s Devices for Dignity MedTech Co-operative, by David Reynolds, Executive Director of Sheffield Hospitals Charity for his “Real world evaluation of healthcare innovations: lessons learned from the Sheffield Test Bed programme”.

Professor Simon Heller, Research and Development Director for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said: “Clinical research is not only important for developing new treatments and merely participating in studies improves patient outcomes. Research active centres also attract the highest quality staff. We were delighted that so many people attended our first ever research showcase event.”

Clare Meachin, Associate Director for Nursing at the National Institute for Health Research, said: “I am extremely passionate about research and nursing and it is great to see such a great depth of active research in this room. The science is so exciting; that is one of the things that makes me get out of bed in the morning as I feel like I am making a contribution to research and to people’s health.”

Professor Dame Pamela Shaw, Director of the National Institute for Health Research Sheffield Biomedical Research Centre, said: “Research and innovation is so important for patient care, so it was great to see so many people at this research showcase which highlighted innovations such as a new neck collar that has been developed for motor neurone disease in partnership with the city’s universities that is now available to patients and is making everyday tasks such as eating and communicating easier for them, revolutionising the lives of people living with this debilitating condition.”

The day concluded with an inspiring talk from Professor Wendy Tindale, Innovation Director at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, who explained the key role Devices for Dignity plays nationally in the rapid development of technologies and devices that help patients living with life-changing conditions live more independent lives and how strong partnerships, the patient voice, and clear identified routes for adoption of ideas into clinical practice are crucial to the innovation process.

Feedback from delegates was overwhelmingly positive with many commenting they made new contacts, learnt where to access support, and were inspired and proud of the research and innovation taking place at the Trust.