Newcastle’s Stroke Services praised as a national leader for recruiting patients into research

Stroke specialists at the North of Tyne’s hyperacute stroke research centre (HSRC) based at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) were recently commended as a leading specialist centre in stroke research, following a peer review led by experts from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

The review which is carried out by independent experts in stroke care including NIHR’s national speciality lead for stroke, and chair of the HSRC oversight committee, is extremely rigorous looking at a wide range of criteria.

In particular, Newcastle was noted for ‘its brilliant recruitment contributions’, having reported the highest number of patients taking part in trial participation in the country, and in a broader range of complex clinical trials than any other centre.


Newcastle's Stroke Research Team

(left to right:) Val Hogg; Sofia Dima; Michelle Fawcett; Carole Tunnell; Omar Hossain; Louise Finlay; Anand Dixit; Teresa Thompson; Steven Woodward

The centre was also noted for its ability to offer many innovative complex interventions being tested under clinical trial, within the first few hours of stroke to help patients recover better.

Dr Anand Dixit, the CRN NENC Specialty Lead for Stroke who works as a stroke specialist at the RVI explains: “Typically these decisions are taken based on advanced brain imaging and can only be carried out in selected centres in the country such as here in Newcastle. 

“We are currently delivering trials testing novel clot retrieval devices, drugs for the treatment of stroke and stem cell therapies following a stroke.”

Dr Dixit, also an honorary clinical senior lecturer at Newcastle University, says Newcastle’s performance is due to the positive engagement of the whole clinical team in research participation.

He continues: “We have a unique approach towards ensuring that every single member of our clinical team treating hyperacute stroke is research active. This means we do not miss an opportunity to offer pioneering interventions to all of our patients.”

He adds: “Our approach of clinical and research integration helps us to offer these interventions to a larger number of stroke patients giving them chance of maximum recovery.”

NIHR’s National Specialty Lead for Stroke, Professor Tom Robinson said: “The North of Tyne have performed exceptionally well, and this is testament to the enthusiasm of the research team and its leadership, the engagement of clinical staff, and the strong support that the HSRC receives from the local Clinical Research Network (CRN) and the Trust.

“It is also important to note the North of Tyne’s HSRC’s contribution of academic studies to the HSRC portfolio as well, notably PASTA.”

The HSRCs and their contribution to delivering hyperacute (<9 hours) and complex trials is a very important part of the NIHR CRN’s portfolio of stroke trials, and this is recognized by international academic researchers and the Life Sciences industry in bringing trials to NIHR.

NIHR’s Stroke Specialty is one of 30 specialties which bring together clinical research expertise to provide high-quality stroke research studies in the NHS. This research is delivered through 15 Local Clinical Research Networks across England with a local lead for stroke research in each area.

Research is supported by the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), awarded to the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University. The NIHR Newcastle BRC aims to improve lives through world-class research in ageing and long-term conditions.

The PASTA (Paramedic Acute Stroke Treatment Assessment) research study is a clinical trial to determine whether the PASTA pathway can speed up access to emergency stroke treatments, especially thrombolysis treatment, and so improve recovery after stroke. 

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