An international team of experts has judged the biomedical research conducted at The Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust, St Mary's NHS Trust and Imperial College London to be amongst the very best in the country.
Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt announced last week (8 December) the creation of eleven Biomedical Research Centres (BRC) and awarded BRC status to the two hospitals in partnership with Imperial College. BRCs will be leaders in translating scientific research into benefits for patients. Imperial's academic clinicians will work with their NHS colleagues to take research from the bench to the bedside, enabling the adoption of new technologies, techniques and treatments.
The award guarantees the partners research funding of £19.5 million per annum for the next five years, and makes the West London BRC the leading centre for the UK.
Trust Chief Executives Derek Smith and Julian Nettel, and Rector of Imperial College London Sir Richard Sykes said, "We are delighted to be recognised for the innovative research which is carried out through our partnership to advance healthcare and medical research around the world. Our research is at the forefront of biomedical invention with the primary goal of improving patient care.”
Awarding BRC status to the Trusts in academic partnership with Imperial is an endorsement of their intention to become the UK's first Academic Health Science Centre. (AHSC). The AHSC will be a healthcare organisation that integrates governance and management for service delivery, teaching and research, based on tried and tested models around the world. This concept represents a future that has captured the imagination and support of clinical leaders and senior management of all organisations and will enable West London to compete on a global stage.
The AHSC will be a magnet for investment and for clinical leaders who champion the creation and delivery of new diagnostic and treatment options to improve the lives and welfare of patients.
Staff, patients and local communities will be involved in designing and planning the AHSC as well as being formally consulted about it in 2007.
Between them the hospitals can already boast the best breast cancer survival rates; the best lung cancer survival rates; and the third and fourth fewest deaths during coronary artery by-pass operations. They have achieved this record by employing the very latest thinking, technology and treatments.
Imperial College is the UK's leading clinical academic university with 140 clinical academic fellows and 53 clinical lecturers. It recently had its world-class reputation confirmed by the Times Higher Educational 2006 World University Rankings, which placed the university fourth in the world for biomedicine and ninth in the world overall.
Further endorsement was received in the Chancellor's pre-budget statement this week (6 December). Gordon Brown announced that the government accepted the findings of a new report into UK Health Research funding, which included a statement of support for the AHSC model. The Cooksey report states: "Universities and Trusts might follow the US Academic Medical Centre model, as Imperial College and St. Mary's and Hammersmith NHS Trusts are doing with their plan to create the UK's first Academic Health Sciences Centre. This proposal, which promises to deliver greater integration of not only research strategies, but vital underpinning human resources and capital assets, should make for a more effective approach to health research and patient care at these institutions.”
Notes to Editors:
1. For more information contact Nick Samuels (Hammersmith Hospitals, 020 8383 3005), Maria Murray (St Mary's Hospital, 020 7886 1475) and Laura Gallagher (Imperial College London, 020 7594 6702 or Mobile 07803 886248).
2. The full list of research themes to be addressed by the BRC:
3. Around the UK, there will be 11 National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) BRCs, comprising six specialist and five general centres.
4. A key part of implementing Best Research for Best Health, the new national health research strategy, is establishing Research Centres within leading NHS and University partnerships to drive progress on innovation and translational research in biomedicine and NHS service quality and safety. NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) will be leaders in scientific translation and early adopters of new insights in technologies, techniques and treatments for improving health. The creation of these centres is a key component of the NHS contribution to the UK's international competitiveness. The joint bid by St Mary's NHS Trust and The Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust, in association with Imperial College, was submitted to the Dept of Health on 13 Oct 2006.
5. The creation of an AHSC will be subject to consultation plus NHS London and Department of Health approval. Details of consultation opportunities will be made available on the organisations' websites and in local newspapers.
6. Cooksey Report: "There is no recommended relationship model to which an NHS Trust and its partner university should work. In some cases, existing structures could be made to work better. In others, universities and Trusts might follow the US Academic Medical Centre model, as Imperial College and St. Mary's and Hammersmith NHS Trusts are doing with their plan to create the UK's first Academic Health Sciences Centre15. This proposal, which promises to deliver greater integration of not only research strategies, but vital underpinning human resources and capital assets, should make for a more effective approach to health research and patient care at these institutions." Cooksey Report, Dec 2006 (para 6.28, page 72) http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/media/56F/62/pbr06_cooksey_final_report_636.pdf
7. In terms of benefits to patients both locally and beyond, the trusts and Imperial believe the establishment of an AHSC would enable the partners to lead the world in improving human health and provide world-class healthcare for our patients through excellence in research, education and training:
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