Sweet success for trust’s ‘research babies on tour’

Thursday February 22, 2018


The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is championing the innovative use of colourful mascots by the trust’s Research and Innovation Department and is issuing a press release commending the Western Sussex approach to raising awareness.

Professor Geeta Menon, Clinical Director at the NIHR Clinical Research Network in Kent, Surrey and Sussex, said: “We applaud Western Sussex Hospitals for continuously finding new ways in which to engage the community with health research.”

The trust’s ‘research jelly babies’ – coloured blue, pink and green to match the Patient First themes of Patient Experience, Our People and Quality Improvement – feature on the research team’s new uniforms but it is a trio of knitted research babies that has attracted national attention.

Created by Head of Research, Dr Cate Bell, the woollen mascots are a regular attraction on the R&I twitter account @WSHTresearch and they have their own hashtag #researchbabiesontour.
Cate said: “We are using the jelly babies to draw attention to research being conducted by colleagues and what research opportunities are available to staff and patients.

“Throughout the year we regularly tweet about the jelly babies and because they are fun and colourful they grab people’s interest and colleagues want to be photographed with them.”

The jelly babies have attended staff conference as well as Yellow Belt training and have also helped to promote the flu jab, giving blood and correct use of antibiotics. Dermatology research nurse, Linda Folkes, even took the jelly babies on holiday to highlight safety in the sun while at Christmas they supported the NIHR Clinical Research Network #giftofresearch campaign.

Looking ahead for 2018, Cate said: “Over the year the jelly babies will be meeting research participants and attending research conferences. We will take them anywhere where we can show how research links up with service improvements and better patient care.”

Evidence shows that research-active trusts have better patient outcomes. The NIHR reported that in 2016/17, more than 150 clinical studies were being run by Western Sussex Hospitals, which resulted in over 1,500 new participants contributing to the development of new treatments in the NHS.

For information about clinical trials and research studies at Western Sussex email the R&I team at research@wsht.nhs.uk or follow them and the reserach babies on Twitter @WSHTresearch.

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