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Mental health research given a boost in Norfolk and Suffolk

​A new three-year research strategy from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust will increase opportunities for service users in Norfolk and Suffolk to participate in research.

Studies show that 97 per cent of people believe their local NHS Trust should engage in research and 70 per cent of service users want to be offered the opportunity to be involved in clinical trials.

This is the first time the Trust has had a structured approach to building research activity. The Trust has been increasing its research activity over the last 18 months but in future this will be in a more formalised, standardised structure in line with national research initiatives.

The strategy comes as the Trust is chosen to be a pilot site of a Department of Health pilot project, INTERACT, initiated by the National Institute for Health Research Dementia and Neurodegenerative Disease Research Network, which seeks to increase engagement with service users, initially in dementia services.

The strategy consists of a ten point plan. The headlines are:

  1. Routinely offer all service users the opportunity to become involved in research studies relevant to their condition
  2. Ensure that all staff have a good knowledge of research and create a vibrant research culture across the Trust
  3. Work towards developing centres of excellence in research in specific Trust services
  4. Develop specific Trust clinical staff to become national and world class
    investigators with their own research profile and grants
  5. Work towards clearly linking Trust research activity with clinical outcomes and developments
  6. Embed research capacity building into forthcoming changes to services and new initiatives in the Trust from an early stage
  7. Work towards attracting more industry research activity to the Trust
  8. Increase the number of Trust-grown grant applications for funding and number of local studies
  9. Maximise research capacity and recruitment to time and target in all areas of the Trust by engaging with services and sponsors
  10. Implement the principles of the National Institute for Health Research

Dr Jon Wilson, deputy medical director for research in the Trust, said: “Research training will be offered to staff. The Trust has a real potential to become a world leader in research for a number of mental health conditions. By engaging our existing academies, boards and professionals, we should be able to develop our growing reputation in focused research areas in the next few years and offer service users research opportunities throughout the whole spectrum of their care.”

Aidan Thomas, Chief Executive. Maggie Wheeler, Chair.
Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).