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Feature Doctors and Research

“It’s the duty of every doctor to get involved with research”

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 27 November 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6329
  1. Anne Gulland, freelance journalist, London, UK
  1. agulland{at}

Is doing research as important as treating your patients? Anne Gulland reports on how the NHS has radically changed its mindset

A chance encounter with his trust’s head of research led Tarek Saba, consultant respiratory physician at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, to consider taking part in research. Saba was encouraged to apply for funding and became the second highest recruiter of patients in his first trial.

Since starting that trial eight years ago1 he has taken part in 15 other studies, and he now has four research nurses working alongside him, is involved in a local research network, and has persuaded his colleagues to join him.

Saba is evangelical.

“It’s been tremendous,” he says. “It’s added a whole new area of interest to my work. It started off as a hobby and has become an essential part of our work here.”

Saba explains that participation in clinical trials has given him access to a network of doctors in other parts of the country.

“You benchmark your practice against theirs, you form personal relationships with them, and you can get help with your patients,” he says.

Double benefit

Saba says that staff are attracted to his department because of its research, with doctors trying to secure a rotation in his unit or be seconded there. But the biggest beneficiaries are patients, who are taking part in trials of the latest treatments. One such trial compared the use of indwelling pleural catheters with the standard treatment for draining fluid from the lungs of patients with lung cancer.

When the study was completed Saba decided to continue using the treatment. …

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