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Brighton study team wins national research award

Dr Sumita Verma (left), Reader in Medicine at BSMS, and Lucia Macken, Research Fellow at BSMS, with The Lancet research award.

A team of researchers from Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) have been recognised by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) for their work to improve end-of-life care for vulnerable patients with advanced liver disease.

The team and their colleagues from Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust (BSUHT) were awarded The Lancet research award at the RCP Excellence in Patient Care Awards 2018 last week.

Dr Sumita Verma, Reader in Medicine at BSMS and Honorary Consultant Hepatologist at BSUHT, and her team won the award for their REDUCe study, which aims to improve end-of-life care in end-stage liver disease.

Dr Verma said: "Winning the RCP Excellence in Patient Care Award is a real honour.

“It is an endorsement of the hard work done by the research team and our collaborators and an acknowledgment that our vulnerable patients with end-stage liver disease need equitable care.

“Our ultimate aim is to improve end-of-life care for people with advanced cirrhosis and untreatable ascites, and the study will show whether moving care for this group from hospital into the community is both cost-effective and improves quality of life.”

End-of-life care for people in England with advanced cirrhosis is very challenging, with more than 70% dying in hospital, compared with 40% of those with advanced cancer.

The study is investigating whether it is possible to use palliative long-term abdominal drains (LTAD) in people with end-stage liver disease and untreatable ascites if liver transplant is not an option. Ascites, an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, is almost always seen in advanced liver disease, resulting in frequent hospitalisations due to debilitating symptoms such as pain and breathlessness. 

By using LTAD, the team aim to manage patients’ symptoms within the community, thereby decreasing the number of hospitalisations they have to endure.

This feasibility randomised controlled trial was funded by a National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) grant in 2015 to help design a future definitive study.

Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) is a partnership between the Universities of Sussex and Brighton and the local NHS health community.

By: Alison Field
Last updated: Thursday, 7 June 2018