Funding secured for ‘world first’ study to tackle one of biggest killers – Heart of England FT

Doctors at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust are set to take the lead on a new study, the first of its kind in the world, which could help prevent thousands of deaths from one of the UK’s biggest but relatively unknown killers.
About 20% of hospital admissions will develop some sort of Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) and 25% will die. In England alone there are about 50,000 preventable deaths a year from AKI.If you compare that to a common well-known cancer such as lung cancer, of which around 35,000 people a year die in the UK, those figures are all the more shocking.
Now a team at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, which includes Heartlands Hospital, Good Hope Hospital and Solihull Hospital, has secured £250,000 funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to launch a pilot project within the Trust to look at AKI.
The study will be led by Dr Mark Thomas (pictured), a consultant in renal medicine and clinical director in education at Heartlands Hospital, and he explained what the study will aim to do and why it is a great boost for the Trust to be leading on such a study.
He said: “We are currently developing an outreach team that will be piloted at one of our hospitals, comparing results with those in a second hospital within the Trust, where there will be good care but no outreach team. The aim is to intervene early in the care of patients with AKI and to help decide quickly the correct way to look after them.
“Also because we get blood tests from primary care we will be helping GPs as well. If we get a report that a patient has developed AKI we will contact the doctor in the hospital or in primary care to provide appropriate outreach care for their patient.
“It is the first ever pilot of its kind in the UK and the first type of study in a major hospital in the world. It will all be developed by the Trust so it is a real coup to be at the forefront of this research and hopefully it will make a huge difference to the treatment of this relatively unknown killer.”
The study will be a combined initiative between the Renal and Critical Care Units and the University of Birmingham and if successful the study will lead to much larger national trials and launch a whole programme of work to tackle AKI.
There is already evidence to suggest the study will be a success after an unofficial pilot study in 2009 at Heartlands produced promising results, which are currently in the process of being published.
Dr Thomas explained why AKI is such a common condition and which demographic of patient it tends to effect.
He said: “AKI is so common because conditions such as dehydration, infection and the use of the wrong drugs can all contribute to AKI. Those issues are very common in elderly, frail patients we are seeing admitted to hospital nowadays so that is why it is a concern.
“This study is a boost for the Trust as a whole as we will be piloting a whole new service that will be a sister service to the Critical Care outreach. That is 24/7 across the three sites, while the AKI outreach service pilot will test a 40 hours a week service across the one site.
“The condition is most common in elderly care and acute admission areas at the Trust so they are our main target areas.”
A new research fellow has started in the Trust to assist the study, which is due to get underway in the spring.

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