Research news

South West Research Awards

HelenWe were very pleased to see Helen shortlisted to the final 3 in the Clinical Research Network: South West Peninsula Research Awards 2020  in the Research Nurse/ Midwife category. Helen has been part of the Research Team for several years and has been instrumental in the success of many research projects in our Trust. She has supported specialities such as reproductive health and childbirth, sexual health and HIV medicine, rheumatology, neurology and more recently COVID-19 projects to name but a few.

This was a particularly significant award for Helen as it came in the final few months of working in the team before she retired from the NHS.

Well done Helen from all your research and clinical colleagues in the Trust – very well deserved.

R&D Work Placement Success

Robert Braunton, 21, has been put at the forefront of the region’s fightback against Covid-19 with his work placement at North Devon District Hospital. His placement as a SIREN Study Administrator, organised by Seetec Pluss, means he is contributing to a study that will give researchers a better insight into the impact of Covid-19 antibodies in healthcare workers.

RobertRobert had never considered a career in research and says that before his placement he knew “nothing about it” but, with the support and guidance of his colleagues, he has come to realise the importance of research on combating the Covid-19 pandemic. Robert said:

“It’s a big thing and it’s really important. It’s a really interesting place to work and I’ve learnt a lot about Covid research. I really enjoy my job. I like coming to work and meeting new people – the people here are lovely. I also like learning new things.”

Robert’s placement runs until August 2021 and he hopes his placement will lead to a full time paid job.

Martin Howard is Robert’s line manager and he describes what he’s been doing during his placement:

“Robert originally joined the Trust through Project SEARCH; a scheme that gives young people with learning disabilities a unique opportunity to gain work experience at North Devon District Hospital, which is proving a great success. The focus of the program is to give the young person the skills and experience to gain paid employment.

“Robert has had roles in the past in pharmacy, medical records and the Exmoor eye clinic. This has provided Robert with valuable skills in different settings within the NHS, which he has successfully translated into his current role.

“Robert has played a pivotal role in helping to organise the administrative side of the SIREN study, through dealing with participant queries, booking appointments and organising consumables for participant visits. Robert’s organisation and willingness to take on new challenges has helped the research department at NDHT to reach the target of recruiting over 10% of the workforce into the study. Robert has shown enthusiasm and dedication to work in a different role to those which he has previously been employed as both in Project Search and with NHSP.”

Tom Reynolds, Deputy R&D Manager, has been impressed by Robert’s work and how he has ensured all the staff have the opportunity to get involved in the study:

“Robert has been a great asset to the NDHT R&D Department during a very difficult time and has worked diligently to ensure we saw as many research participants as possible.  We are a small, friendly team and Robert has fitted in straight away with his positive, friendly demeanour and a proactive attitude to his work; so I am very pleased to be able to extend our thanks to Robert for everything he does to help us deliver our vital research at NDHT.”

Robert’s advice to anyone considering a career in research is to contact their local hospital’s Research Department to see what opportunities they have available. As he says: “Everyone has been supportive.”


South West Research News #3 2019

PrEP Impact Trial: A pragmatic health technology assessment of PREP and implementation

Study summary: To test the hypothesis that consensus estimates using best available data on PrEP need, uptake and duration of use are correct and, if not, provide accurate measures across the complexity of the population likely to benefit from this medicinal product. This is required to determine the commissioning of future.

BBC News Coverage: HIV diagnosis for 15 men waiting for drug on NHS

The PRISM Trial (PRogesterone In Spontaneous Miscarriage)

This study ran at NDDH between July 2015 and May 2017. Now closed, with results published this month¹, PRISM was a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled multicentre study. The aim of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of progesterone treatment in preventing miscarriage, in women with early pregnancy bleeding. The study was run through the Early Pregnancy Assessment Clinic (EPAC) and recruited 33 participants in North Devon.

As a gesture of thanks for taking part in the trial, Professor Arri Coomarasamy – Chief Investigator of PRISM , has sent a copy of the book which he co-authored: ‘Gynecologic and Obstetric Surgery – Challenges and Management Options’ to North Devon’s Principal Investigator Mr Seumas Eckford. The book will be kept in the Gynae Theatre and is dedicated to Mr Eckford and his team.


Mr Eckford (man in white) is pictured, along with members of the PRISM team, being presented with the book in the EPAC clinic.

¹A Coomarasamy, A J Devall et al: A Randomized Trial of Progesterone in Women with Bleeding in Early Pregnancy. New England Journal of Medicine, N Eng J Med 2019; 380: 1815-24. DOI: 10.1056/MEJMoa1813730

graspGRASP: Getting it Right in Addressing Shoulder Pain

The Research Team would like to send a massive congratulations for the fantastic team efforts of Rob Sandbach, Rob Parsons, Ros Hebard, Lee Buckland and all the Physiotherapists and Administrators in the Outpatients Departments at NDDH and Bideford Community Hospital for successfully recruiting 30 patients into the GRASP trial from the University of Oxford. The Northern Devon Healthcare NHS team have recruited their 30th patient today, 3 months ahead of target. This is a great reflection of their dedication to offering research opportunities to their patients, their engagement in delivery quality research and their desire to contributing to best practice.

Sexual Health teamCongratulations to the Sexual Health team at our GUM clinic in Exeter for smashing the recruitment target of  240, with over 300 recruits into the SAFETXT study. To show our appreciation, we sent Helen Black, Research Nurse at NDHT, to Exeter to deliver one of her home-made cakes!

A special mention to Louise Pritchard for personally recruiting over 170 patients into this study. What an achievement!

Dr Sophia Davies, Principal Investigator, and her team have up until the 31st December 2018 to get some more recruits. Best of luck!

Sexual health team praised for ‘valuable contribution’ to research!

The chief investigator of a national clinical research trial has praised the sexual health team for their ‘extremely valuable contribution’ to the study. The safetxt study is looking at whether sending text messages containing safer sex advice has an impact on preventing chlamydia and gonorrhoea infections. NDHT has been recruiting to this study from April 2016 and will continue until the recruitment period has finished, which is expected to be November 2018. Professor Caroline Free, chief investigator of the clinical trial, wrote to us to praise the team who have been involved in the study at NDHT. Professor Free wrote: “We would like to highlight the work that Sophia Davies and the team have undertaken. [She] has been highly supported by Jane Hunt, Louise Pritchard, Clare Davidson and their excellent research team to recruit a total of 289 participants, and [they] have made an extremely valuable contribution to the study.”

Well done to the team for their fantastic contribution to this important research.

dalesDALES – Drug Allergy Labels in the Elective Surgical Population

The team recruited 142 patients and an additional

20 anesthetic surveys were completed, making our

sites total accrual 162 (our target was 50). We

were also the first in the SWARM network to start

and complete recruitment!

Last updated: November 16, 2021