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NIHR Report from RCOphth Congress 2017: Ten years of ophthalmology research delivery in the NHS: successes, challenges and future aspirations

9 August 2017

Dr Jonathan Sheffield OBE, CEO of the Clinical Research Network NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) opened a symposium dedicated to the first ten years of the NIHR and the contribution of Ophthalmology. He outlined the objectives of the NIHR and the successes in making clinical research in the UK more efficient, more transparent and more accessible to healthcare professionals and patients across the country.

Professor Rupert Bourne and Professor Faruque Ghanchi, the respective Chair and Vice-Chair of the NIHR’s Ophthalmology Specialty Group (OSG), outlined the non-commercial and commercial research achievements of the Ophthalmology portfolio of clinical studies, with 10-15,000 patients recruited per year for the past 5 years.

Key developments supported by the NIHR OSG have included a strong focus on patient outcomes and integrating research into clinical care and new initiatives in informatics, trainee research networks, and patient and public engagement (led by Miss Sheena George).

New collaborations with international partners were also presented. For the past 7 years there has been a steady improvement in studies recruiting to time and target as investigators in university and non-university hospitals across the country gaining more experience in assessing feasibility of studies and more developed local infrastructure to assist Ophthalmology studies that include research optometrists, orthoptists and nurses and direct assistance from patient support groups.

Giuliana Silvestri, Miss Susan Downes and Mr Phillip Hykin gave excellent presentations on groundbreaking clinical NIHR research in Belfast, Oxford and London, respectively, concluded with a fascinating panel discussion involving the speakers, Praveen Patel and Richard Gale, at which Dr Sheffield announced the winners of three prizes for Ophthalmology Trainee Research Network research studies.

Photo (from right to left): Dr Jonathan Sheffield OBE, CEO of the Clinical Research Network NIHR and Dr George Moussa, ST3, Royal Stoke University Hospital, one of the winners of the OTRN prizes for a study named “Calculating the Health Economic Burden of Microbial Keratitis Regionally in the United Kingdom”, and Prof Rupert Bourne, Chair of the NIHR Ophthalmology Specialty Group.