Brighton study team wins national research award

A team of researchers based at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust (BSUH) were awarded The Lancet research award at the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) Excellence in Patient Care Awards 2018 last week.

Dr Sumita Verma, Reader in Medicine at BSMS and Honorary Consultant Hepatologist at BSUH, 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. I am particularly grateful to Drs Louise Mason and Lucia Macken, our Clinical Trials Unit, the Sussex Community Trust and our participating sites in Worthing, Plymouth, Blackpool and Southampton.

“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 with advanced cirrhosis in England 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.