In September 2012, the NIHR Alder Hey Clinical Research Facility (CRF) officially launched following a £2m award from NIHR within its Experimental Medicine CRF call.
This complements the strengths in Liverpool for research into Better, Safer Medicines for Children. The NIHR award builds on previous investment from Alder Hey and Alder Hey Children’s Charity.
The focus within the CRF is to deliver high quality and safe studies in experimental medicine and early phase trials: this includes the first ever administration of potential new therapeutic agents in children and babies.
In order to ensure the highest standards of safety and quality for the delivery of such studies, the CRF employs and expert and dedicated team including a Paediatric Clinical Pharmacologist, Research Nurses, Pharmacists, a Play Specialist and a Quality Assurance Officer.
The CRF is supported by high specification equipment and platforms in Radiology and Pathology with research staff in each of these departments. The CRF team also provides an outreach role, working with clinical teams in paediatric intensive care, oncology and the neonatal intensive care unit at Liverpool Women’s Hospital.
An important role for the CRF is to contribute to the UK ‘Health and Wealth’ concept. Not only does the CRF offer the opportunity to babies, children and young people of access to novel medicines, but also since its inception, the CRF has continued to build relationships with the pharmaceutical sector through engagement with large companies and small medium enterprises. In 2013, the CRF provided patients with access to research studies sponsored by 18 different commercial partners, and included ‘global firsts’ in which a patient in Liverpool was the first in the world to be enrolled into the study.
The design and environment of the CRF has been designed with the involvement of children and young people to ensure that their needs are met within the space available. This includes spaces for social interaction as well as the possibility for isolation and privacy in ether the daycase unit or individual rooms.
In 2014, the CRF successfully completed its first inpatient episodes, allowing the opportunity for more complex studies requiring extended intervention and observation periods in a bespoke environment. The patient experience is of paramount importance to us and we have an ongoing programme of arts and patient involvement work led by the CRF Play Specialist and CRF Consumer Liaison Manager.