Blackpool South MP Scott Benton has said that medical trials being spearheaded by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s Clinical Research Centre could play a key role in eliminating health inequalities in the town.
The centre, based at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, includes one of the country’s five National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Patient Recruitment Centres.
The centres were launched in the National Health Service (NHS) 18 months ago to work collaboratively and innovatively to make it easier and quicker to deliver commercial research in the UK.
The Blackpool centre’s achievements include working in partnership with Fylde Coast Clinical Research to administer the world’s first Novavax Covid-19 vaccine in the phase three clinical trial, which began in autumn 2020, and which brought Covid vaccinations to Blackpool three months before the national vaccination programme began.
Novavax is now a World Health Organisation-approved and UK-approved vaccine and it is aiming to deliver 2 billion doses worldwide in 2022 and beyond.
Other successes include studies offering early access to new treatments for breast cancer and recruiting patients for studies into bone marrow cancer and heart disease.
The Blackpool South MP was given a tour of the facility by Dr Angela Parker, Blackpool Patient Recruitment Centre (PRC) Manager and Manager for Research, Development and Innovation at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Jim Gardner, the Trust’s Executive Medical Director and Executive Lead for Research, and Dr Gavin Galasko, Director of Research, Development and Innovation at the Trust and Clinical Director of the PRC.
Afterwards, he said: “It was brilliant to visit the centre and the team there can rightly be proud of the role they had in developing two Covid vaccines, which is something they will always have their place in history for.
“But outside of that, the centre can have an influential role going forward in researching how some of the health inequalities which Blackpool suffers from can be eliminated.
“Receiving more research funding from the Government can assist in this regard and I will be speaking to Ministers about the way in which funding is allocated in order to try to bring more money into the research centre.”