Peterborough and Cambridgeshire health trust begins running clinical trials to test mental health drugs

The team at the trust
The team at the trust
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Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust’s top-performing Windsor Research Unit is now running clinical trials to test mental health drugs, offering patients the chance to try new treatments and therapies.

The trust is one of the top nationally for research in this specialty, helping more people take part every year.

Newly refurbished to meet the licencing requirements for clinical trials, the unit has doubled its number of mental health studies and opened the first clinical trial this month.

The unit’s mental health team manager, Katherine Cummergen, said: “We are delighted to start running clinical trials as part of the mental health research portfolio and work with new health partners to test pioneering treatments. The team is dedicated to giving patients and volunteers the best experience and increasing opportunities to take part in research to enhance their care so we can find solutions to improve mental health.”

Originally developed to deliver high quality portfolio clinical trials in dementia, the unit has expanded to successfully run mental health and community research, recruiting more than 3,498 participants for mental health studies – including more than 1,000 in the last year.

CPFT researchers are investigating how to diagnose mental illness at the earliest stage, explore the links with physical illnesses, improve care and support patients to live well with better management and treatment of conditions.

CPFT works with major international institutions and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) UK portfolio. NIHR regional mental health speciality lead and CPFT consultant psychiatrist Dr Emilio Fernandez-Egea said: “Research is essential to improve clinical care for our patients.

"At the Clozapine Clinic I work with many people living with treatment-resistant schizophrenia and want to offer them every chance to try new treatments and therapies. The mental health team at Windsor Research Unit offer fantastic support for researchers and health professionals and this development means we can now integrate clinical trials with care.

"Running these studies means our patients have access to new drugs that can make a huge difference now, and for people in future.”

The Clozapine Clinic in Cambridge runs monitoring and assessments to understand how and why some people with schizophrenia can improve with this antipsychotic medication. The clinic works with CPFT’s rehabilitation and recovery teams to support patients on this pathway.

Anyone diagnosed with schizophrenia, experiencing symptoms of psychosis or negative symptoms, can discuss with their doctor whether a trial with clozapine might be useful and seek a referral to the clinic.

The team is involved in several studies within the region and collaborating with other international and UK centres.

To participate in mental health research at CPFT and to find out more, contact the Windsor Research Unit on 01223 219518 or email wru@cpft.nhs.uk. The unit works with families, carers, healthy volunteers and people across the mental health pathway.

If you would like to make a donation to support mental health research and development to improve services and care at CPFT, please contact the trust’s charity Head to Toe on 01223 219708 or charity@cpft.nhs.uk.