Norwich hospital wins £95m medical research contract

Anna Dugdale from the Norfolk and Norwich HospitalPhoto: Nick ButcherCopy: For: EDPArchant © 2005(0

Anna Dugdale from the Norfolk and Norwich HospitalPhoto: Nick ButcherCopy: For: EDPArchant © 2005(01603) 772434 - Credit: Archant © 2005

Norfolk's biggest hospital will be at the forefront of UK medical advances after winning a £95m research contract.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (NNUH) has been named as one of just 15 institutions in a national research network, beating a rival bid from hospitals in Cambridge.

And the coup for the hospital will help attract even more top staff to its wards.

The trust will receive £19m a year to support clinical research after being named as the east of England branch of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network for the next five years.

The network is the clinical research delivery arm of the NHS - providing funding to hospitals and surgeries to pay for research nurses, scans, x-rays and other research costs.

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Anna Dugdale, chief executive of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: 'We are delighted to have been selected as one of the 15 Trusts nationally to run the NIHR Clinical Research Network in the region.

'This all helps to recruit and retain the very best clinical staff for our patients, giving them the best care and the best research.

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'Our focus will be to support clinical teams across the region in increasing the number of patients who have access to clinical trials, thereby giving patients access to cutting edge clinical care.'

The network means patients will have more chances to take part in clinical research, ensures studies are carried out efficiently and helps companies to carry out clinical research into potentially life-saving new treatments and ways to diagnose illness.

It also provides evidence on what developments work most effectively in the NHS, and how it can best use its resources.

The bidding process was open to all foundation trusts and, since April, two bids from the east have been under scrutiny by the NIHR.

The judging panel praised the N&N for its 'level of commitment and enthusiasm' and its understanding of the role it would perform in the region. They said the eastern region was 'one of the most closely-fought', and recommended that the hospital work closely with Cambridge University Hospitals, given the high standard of that organisation's rival bid.

After winning the contract for the eastern region, the hospital will be awarded a five year contract from the Department of Health through the NIHR, and will have responsibility for distributing £19 million a year to support clinical research across the whole area.

Dr Jonathan Sheffield, chief executive of the NIHR Clinical Research Network and chair of the selection panel, said: 'The host organisations are our local administrative branches – but they are so much more than that.

'They will help to set the level of ambition for clinical research delivery locally, and assist us in making sure that clinical research occupies the place it deserves in the day-to-day work of the NHS.

'We were extremely impressed with the commitment shown by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust during the selection process, and I very much look forward to working with them to increase the opportunities for patients to participate in research, and develop the treatments of the future.'

Last year, more than 630,000 patients took part in clinical research studies supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network.

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