Patients across Kent will benefit from the creation of a specialised Clinical Trials Unit at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate.
The £1.6 million project involves converting the old Reculver Ward at the QEQM into a clinical space for research studies, and investing in the research infrastructure across East Kent Hospitals to help bring more innovative trials to patients.
The unit would serve the whole of Kent, meaning people would no longer need to travel to London to take part in trials of the latest drugs or medical devices.
Jessica Evans, director of research and innovation at the Trust, said the unit would bring positives for both staff and patients.
She said: “It will mean our staff can be supported to carry out their own research, from concept and design to grant application and delivery.
“It will put research at the forefront of people’s minds and provide opportunities to improve treatment for everyone from our youngest patients to those receiving palliative care.
“The coronavirus pandemic really put research on the map and everyone now appreciates how vital it is to help us give the best care to our patients.
“With the new medical school now open, we are ideally placed to open the first Clinical Trials Unit in Kent.”
The unit, which is expected to open this autumn, would host both major commercial studies such as trials of new drugs, as well as home-grown research led by EKHUFT clinicians.
This includes the ongoing Berry trial, investigating whether black elderberry liquid is an effective treatment for Covid-19.
Ms Evans said: “We know there are better health outcomes in research-led institutions, and that the vast majority of patients are willing to take part in research.
“The teams have proved what they can do with their fantastic work throughout the pandemic, recruiting more than 2,000 people to Covid research studies. In total, more than 5,000 people were recruited to a range of studies throughout the pandemic.
“The new Clinical Trials Unit will allow them to deliver even more for the people of east Kent and beyond.”