Researchers at Imperial College London have been awarded a share of a multi million pound government investment to improve the safety of patients.
The Department of Health announced today that the Imperial Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (PSTRC), coordinated by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, will receive a total of £7.3m to support its research into improving healthcare delivery – the largest award in this funding competition.
The Imperial PSTRC works to improve patient safety and the quality of healthcare services in the NHS and internationally by bringing together researchers and clinicians with relevant expertise.
Investing in research to improve patient safety is essential for making the NHS the best today, and for tackling the challenges of tomorrow.
– Nicola Blackwood, Public Health and Innovation Minister
The latest cash injection from the government-backed National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) will provide a total of £17m over five years from August this year to institutions and NHS partnerships in England to turn basic research into advances relevant to patient safety.
With the new funding, Imperial PSTRC will look to build upon its existing reputation as a leading centre for developing advances in healthcare delivery by funding London-based clinicians and academics to conduct translational research.
Professor Lord Ara Darzi, Director of the NIHR Patient Safety and Translational Research Centre, said: “I am grateful to NIHR for their commitment, support and leadership in patient safety research. For every patient (and their families) and all clinicians, safety should come first.
“My team and I are passionate about improving safety in our NHS. The research investment will allow us to continue to push the frontier in translating many scientific and technological advances to improve the safety of care across the NHS - in primary care and hospitals, for both mental and physical health.
“The Centre will continue to drive innovations that will reduce harm and will impact the NHS nationally and health systems globally.”
Real world impact
To date, patient safety projects from Imperial College and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust have had a far-reaching impact, including work with the World Health Organization (WHO) to improve outcomes in surgery. NIHR-funded researchers at Imperial PSTRC helped to develop the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist. The 19-point checklist has helped to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with surgery by boosting communication, teamwork and reducing errors, all of which have led to improved patient outcomes.
Helping to combat the rising tide of antimicrobial resistance in the UK and around the world, one of the centre’s trials reduced antibiotic prescribing through sending letters to GP surgeries, informing them if they were overprescribing compared to others. Over a six-month period, the intervention led to 4.3% reduction, which amounts to more than 70,000 fewer antimicrobials dispensed.
For wider prescribing, an initiative was launched to design drug charts for the NHS which helped to reduce dosage errors, while an additional project aimed at hygiene increased compliance rates of hand-washing – a key step in reducing hospital-acquired infections.
Another area explored by the centre is harnessing the benefits of technology for patients. Researchers developed a tablet and smartphone-based task management app called HARK to prioritise clinical tasks and securely track patient data.
Commenting on the latest funding award for the centre, Dr Tracey Batten, Chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “We are delighted that our partnership with Imperial College London has been designated as the Patient Safety and Translational Research Centre.
“It highlights the many innovations that the partnership is leading on to improve patient safety within Imperial College NHS Trust, the NHS as a whole and beyond.”
Public Health and Innovation Minister, Nicola Blackwood, said: “London is home to some of the best research minds in the world. This Government is committed to supporting them to improve the lives of Londoners and, in fact, people across England.
“We want every patient to receive the best and safest NHS treatment and care as possible. Investing today in research to improve patient safety is essential for making the NHS the best today, and for tackling the challenges of tomorrow.
“London is at the heart of cutting edge health research and our investments through the NIHR will help our researchers strive for global excellence.”
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