Our £3.3m Spring funding

10 May 2016

We’re pleased to announce details of the projects that we’ve funded as part of our Spring round of grants to help patients in the hospitals we support.

There are 13 projects that have been funded in this round (we have two grant rounds per year – one in the Spring and one in the Autumn; for more details please visit our funding pages).

Speaking about the impact of these projects, our Director of Grants, Dr Francesca Gliubich, said: “We are delighted to announce these awards, that will deliver improved patient experience and provide opportunities for research across the spectrum of health-related challenges.

“We are proud to support such innovative approaches to advancement in healthcare through projects of direct relevance to the population that Barts Health serves.”

Below we’ve summarised the projects – incorporating both research and non-research. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

  • Creating dementia-friendly environments for people with dementia in Whipps Cross Hospital - £496,800

Modern hospitals are often noisy, fast-paced environments that are in stark contrast to the hospitals of the past. As the number of people with dementia continues to increase it is essential that hospital environments respond to their needs and are designed to compensate for the potential difficulties of dementia, rather than further disable people with dementia.

This project will provide dementia-friendly environments and activity resources for patients that will lead the way in which Barts Health delivers care for people with dementia in hospital:

  • Creating appropriate social spaces that help people to reminisce and engage with a time of their lives that they can remember
  • Installing artwork and signage to meet the needs of patients
  • Providing activity resources to engage and stimulate
  • Supported self-management programme for traumatic injury survivors - £343,018

Despite 48,000 cases of traumatic injury every year, there still remains no specific rehabilitation pathway for these patients.

International studies, the Health Foundation and the Kings Fund have demonstrated that well-designed, self-management programmes (SMP) can help patients better manage their condition, tracking their own progress toward recovery goals which ultimately enhances their wellbeing.

This two-stage project will develop a self-management programme specific to the needs of trauma patients treated at The Royal London.

The findings will help to expand the Centre’s AfterTrauma website – the pioneering website for online trauma rehab for ex-patients.

  • Reducing the effects of air pollution on children with cystic fibrosis - £375,796

Children with cystic fibrosis (CF; a condition where lung infection and abnormal airway cell activity causes progressive lung damage) are adversely affected by air pollution particles (soot) from traffic.

This study aims to address the vulnerability of children with cystic fibrosis to air pollution by using personal air pollution monitoring to co-design with parents and children personal exposure reduction tips.

It will also conduct cell-based research to provide greater understanding in how air pollution affects children with this condition.

  • The new bereavement suite at Whipps Cross - £96,000

Following the death of a patient, a bereaved person is required to collect their loved one’s death certificate and formally register the death – this is their last experience of the hospital.

This funding will enable the improvement and overhaul of the current areas available to families and carers at Whipps Cross, updating interiors and spaces; instead evoking a sense of welcome and reassurance for relatives/carers and ensuring they feel as comfortable as possible.

  • Innovative blood spot testing and biochemical monitoring providing benefit to patient pathways and health economy through procurement of a highly specialised chemistry testing system - £331,070

This grant will fund the purchase of equipment for a new blood spot testing service so patients can provide blood samples from a finger prick carried out at home; and development of a new oral fluid testing service to enhance steroid analysis for patients that are needle-phobic, where analysis of "free" hormones is essential.

Initially, this will provide measurement of cortisol for diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome (a collection of symptoms – including weight gain, thinning skin and reddish-purple stretch marks). It will be extended for detection of other conditions at a later date.

  • Helping patients with swallowing disorders - £325,000

A project seeking to provide more coordinated and integrated services for patients with swallowing disorders.

The ultimate aim is to create a “one-stop shop” for patients with swallowing, breathing and voice disorders seen in a high quality multidisciplinary clinic – the first in the country.

Establishment of new services would mean significantly more ear, nose and throat patients can be seen every year.

  • Better health for people with rare endocrine disorders: promoting patient engagement in regular screening - £75,000

Patients with certain rare inherited endocrine conditions are at risk of developing tumours at multiple sites in the body. These tumours can be very serious and even life-threatening.

Patients with these rare conditions should undergo regular screening to detect tumours when they are small, so they can be treated most effectively, however some patients find this prospect too frightening.

This study aims to determine what factors influence their decision to be screened or to avoid screening – with the results being used to help more people engage in crucial screening.

  • Improved treatment strategy for tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer - £184,669

Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women in the UK. Approx. 70% of breast tumours are oestrogen receptor positive (ER+).

While initially very effective in treating ER+ breast cancer, over 30% of patients eventually become resistant to the drug tamoxifen. There are at present no effective cures or predictor tools for tamoxifen resistant breast cancer.

This study will investigate the function of tamoxifen-resistant cancer cells and use new techniques that aim to improve outcomes for patients with tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer.

  • New therapies for wet age related macular degeneration - £269,689

Wet age related macular degeneration (Wet AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the aging population and is characterised by the formulation of abnormal new blood vessels deep in the eye. The current therapy involves monthly injections into the eye.

The purpose of this project is to develop an alternative therapy based on the researchers’ novel drug, which works in a completely different way to existing treatments and offers the potential to be administered as eye drops.

  • Seeking to improve treatments for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) - £77,487

According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2012, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) accounts for 1% of all new cancer cases in the UK, and 37% of all leukaemia types, making it the most common blood cancer. Importantly, in spite of recent advances in specific drug development, CLL still remains an incurable disease that can transform into highly aggressive forms of the disease.

This important study will use state-of-the-art methodology and a thorough characterisation of CLL patients with the aim of developing more precise and effective strategies to target CLL.

  • Post infectious immune suppression: exploring mechanisms and developing a treatment strategy for patients with adverse long-term outcomes - £98,084

This study will investigate whether bacteria have the ability to alter the immune system of those they infect.

By studying patients with infections in hospital, it will investigate the theory that bacteria can evade the body’s defences.

It will also investigate whether these changes persist following recovery from the initial illness – thereby making these patients susceptible to further infections.

Finally, it will assess the performance of specific medications to reverse these detrimental changes to the immune system and improve patient outcomes.

  • Endocrine MATCH research trial - £120,000

Approx. 16 million people in the UK have hypertension (high blood pressure). 60,000 preventable deaths per year from stroke and heart attack are attributable to hypertension.

One important cause of hypertension is Conn’s syndrome (CS) in which the adrenal glands (situated above the kidneys) produce too much of the hormone aldosterone.

This study will investigate whether a new (painless) scan is better than the existing (uncomfortable) test for CS. If true, it’s expected that far more patients with CS can benefit.

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