Anaesthetic trials continue at GV Health despite COVID-19 outbreak
Published at: 21 Aug 2020
ESTABLISHED IN 2018, GV HEALTH’S ANAESTHETIC RESEARCH TEAM CONDUCTS CLINICAL TRIALS AT THE HEALTHCARE SERVICE. DESPITE COVID-19, THERE ARE CURRENTLY THREE ANAESTHETIC TRIALS TAKING PLACE AT GV HEALTH.
GV Health’s Anaesthetic Research team was established in 2018 by Consultant Anaesthetist Nigel Dunk and Clinical Director of Anaesthetics Helen Roberts.
Dr Dunk said taking part in the trials had been a fantastic thing for GV Health in the two years since.
“It makes it a good environment for junior doctors and also helps to attract staff,” he said.
Joined by GV Health Anaesthetic Research co-ordinator Natasha Pearson in April, she said the team was currently engaged with three trials taking place nationally and internationally.
Ms Pearson said it was largely a result of Dr Dunk’s enthusiasm that GV Health began running anaesthetic trials.
Dr Dunk returned to Australia in late 2017 after living in the UK for many years when he took up a position as GV Health’s consultant anaesthetist.
Previously working in a UK regional hospital that participated in collaborative research, Dr Dunk said he had seen, even in the smaller hospital, it was possible to make a significant contribution to multi-centre collaborative research.
With the support and encouragement of Dr Roberts, Dr Dunk said he began the process of applying for GV Health to be a site for the ROCKet trial.
“We saw it as a great opportunity to develop the anaesthetic department while at the same time contributing to the advancement of medical knowledge,” he said.
Dr Dunk said the trial ROCKet — Reduction Of Chronic post-surgical pain with Ketamine — was a five-year trial of the effect of up to 72-hours of peri-operative ketamine on the risk of development of chronic post-surgical pain.
Dr Dunk said the first patient for this trial was recruited in November 2018, and slow but steady recruitment had continued since then.
“Initially there was an enormous amount of work for Nigel as the principal investigator, but this was quickly lightened by recruiting a number of keen registrars who became very adept at recruiting and consenting patients and following them through the trial,” Ms Pearson said.
“Hopefully these registrars, having learned about the conduct of a collaborative trial, will go on to participate in clinical research throughout their careers.”
Ms Pearson said it was after this regular patient recruitment taking place that her position as full time research co-ordinator became available earlier this year.
“Natasha has worked at GV Health for nearly nine years in a number of roles and she has brought fantastic new skills and experience to the team,” Dr Dunk said.
“Having a full time research co-ordinator has enabled GV Health to screen and recruit more patients and to streamline both the data collection and follow-up processes.”
Ms Pearson’s role involves liaising with patients who are eligible to take part in the trials to obtain their consent to take part.
Dr Dunk stressed that all the trials were held to international and Australian ethical standards and participation was completely voluntary.
“We can assure patients that take part that it’s really safe to do so,” he said.
The research team has recently started recruiting for POISE-3 (PeriOperative Ischemic Evaluation 2) and has also been accepted as a site for the VAPOR-C (Volatile Anaesthesia and Perioperative Outcomes related to Cancer) trial.
Ms Pearson said the recent COVID-19 outbreak and consequent reduction of elective surgery throughout Victoria had meant that recruitment for the trials had slowed slightly.
“We are still going though,” she said.
Ms Pearson said the plan was to continue expanding its research portfolio by ongoing involvement in appropriate trials.
“We would encourage other regional centres to participate in collaborative research as well,” she said.
“Our experience has been only positive. Our whole department has benefited from being involved.”
Ms Pearson said if anyone who was due to have surgery thinks they may be eligible to take part in one of the trials to contact her on email@example.com