Research and Innovation

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Athula Sumathipala, Professor of Psychiatry, has been awarded a prestigious fellowship from the Royal College of Psychiatrists in recognition of his dedication to psychiatry and research.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists is a professional body responsible for setting and raising standards within the field of psychiatry, improving the outcomes of patients with mental illness, their families and communities.

The College awards Fellowships as a mark of distinction and recognition to an individual's contribution to psychiatry by leading, representing and supporting psychiatrists, and promoting excellence within service development, innovation, teaching and research.

Medical Director, Dr Khan, nominated Professor Sumathipala on behalf of the South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust for his dedication to developing an overarching research culture, and strengthening the collaboration between the Trust and Keele University.

Professor Sumathipala has played a leading role in the mental health programme within the Research Institute, particularly leading global mental health through research publications and developing future leaders of research on both a local and international scale.

Dedicated to global health initiatives, Professor Sumathipala established The Institute for Research and Development in Sri Lanka, which is now an influential research institute of international recognition.

Professor Sumathipala commented 'it's a great accolade to be awarded this fellowship, having spent a number of years dedicated to supporting their work".

Some more of his key achievements are:

  • Giving leadership to develop a joint research strategy between Research Institute of Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and SSSFT
  • Conducting a tertiary clinic for people with Medically Unexplained Symptoms'
  • Initiating a weekly research clinic to support clinicians at different levels to support developing research proposals and ideas
  • Involved in post graduate teaching for higher trainees
  • Invited by the WHO SEARO office contributed to the South East Asia suicide prevention policy
  • Member of the WHO (Geneva), working group on 'Ethical issues in Research and surveillance: Epidemics, Pandemics and Public Health Crisis

Nominations were submitted for the 2017 CRN awards, which celebrate excellence amongst researchers and teams. Our submissions were for the following award categories:

Emerging new team: SSSFT Eating Disorders team in partnership with R&I team

Winner of the Emerging New Team which was based on the partnership work between the eating disorders team and the delivery team based within the R&I department. The team are working on an Industry (pharma) clinical trial offering a new novel therapy to our service users.

Patient & Public Involvement and Engagement: PACE-R Group

We were Highly Commended for the Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement for the PACE-R Group. This award is for an individual or team who have shown outstanding commitment to involving patients or the public in research design and delivery.

The CCGs in Staffordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin in partnership with Keele University and West Midlands Clinical Research Network have advertised one-year research fellowships. Three Research Fellows will be appointed for up to four ½ day sessions a month for one year to undertake grant writing activities to support development of observational studies in primary care.

The scheme will provide successful applicants with protected time to work with a multi-disciplinary team of academics to develop research proposals for formal grant applications.  Research Fellows will be ‘buddied’ with an experienced researcher who will assist in all aspects of the research process.

The fellowships are open to any healthcare professional working locally in the NHS (in primary, community or secondary care and be local enough to be able to regularly work from Keele University) who have a viable research idea for an observational study to be undertaken in primary care setting within the participating CCG areas, and want support in developing a grant proposal to take this forward.

For further information, including how to apply, please refer to the advert and application form.  Deadline for applications is 18th August 2017. Please get in touch with the R&I Department if you would like support with your application.

Professor Kehoe has spoken to The Daily Express about the RADAR Study (open at SSSFT) and the use of blood pressure control drugs in Alzheimer’s. The press release can be accessed by clicking the link, Press Release. If you are interested in finding out more about RADAR, and other dementia research studies, sign up to Join Dementia Research (


The study team took part in a study looking at the effectiveness of adapting mental health assessments for use by deaf British Sign Language patients. The study itself was led by Manchester University. Currently, deaf BSL users experience significantly poorer mental health than their hearing counterparts, with the prevalence of some common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety being up to twice as high. They found that the adapted assessments would be beneficial to patients who were deaf BSL users. You can read more about this in the information received from the study team by clicking the link Study Results.


PhD Opportunity: Use of metaphors in the management of people with chronic musculoskeletal pain; a qualitative study

Closing Date: Friday 28th April 2017
Location: Keele University, Research Institute for Primary Care & Health Sciences Research, Stoke on Trent

Project Description

In this study, we aim to investigate the current use of metaphors in the management of people with chronic MSK pain and compile a collection of metaphors used in routine practice. Chronic MSK pain is defined as pain that persists for 3+ months and affects muscles and/or joints (e.g. low back pain, osteoarthritis-relate pain). Then we will explore the usefulness of these metaphors and determine how these may be refined to improve their usefulness in enhancing management of people with these conditions. Our aim is to explore the existing metaphors used by clinicians and also to support future development of a metaphors-based intervention that could be incorporated into low intensity brief CBT interventions delivered by non-specialist/ generalists and testing their clinical and cost effectiveness.

Objectives and Research questions

The overall objective is to explore the use of metaphors by clinicians/healthcare practitioners in the management of people with chronic MSK and to refine and improve them to enhance the management of people with chronic MSK pain by developing a new CBT-led intervention as the next step. Hence this ACORN PhD proposal will be the qualitative component informing the development of a later intervention.

Research questions

  1. What is the existing knowledge about the use of metaphors in relation to chronic MSK pain?

  2. How do healthcare practitioners/people with chronic MSK pain use metaphors during consultations about MSK?

  3. What metaphors do healthcare practitioners/people with chronic MSK pain use in the context of managing/experiencing chronic MSK pain

  4. Can metaphors be refined and improved to enhance management of people with chronic MSK pain?

For more information on methods, ethical considerations, analysis plan and funding please visit:

Writing Research SOPs- A Workshop- 13th July 2017

We're holding a training session on how to write research standard operating procedures (SOPs) with Suzanne Sumara. Places are extremely limited, so if you're interested get in touch! 


Writing Research SOPs worskshop


Evaluation: what is it, why should we do it, and how should we go about it?

Presented by David Dobel-Ober

Please join us for the first of 4 free Lunchtime Seminars hosted by the Research Department. The details are:

Date:     Tuesday 25th April 2017

Time:    12.30pm – 1.30pm

Venue: Theatre 3, Learning Centre, St Georges Hospital.

25th April 2017 Lunchtime Seminar Flyer

Celebrating Research Coffee Morning 23rd May

Updated Invite to Research Event

On 23rd May 2017, the research team will be celebrating all things research by holding a coffee morning. This will take place between 9am and 12pm at the Learning Centre, St. George's Hospital, Stafford. Come join the celebrations; there'll be cake! 

NCMH Appointment with Telford and Wrekin Mayor 17th February

Mayor of Telford

On 17th February 2017, Lucy Hamilton and Lucy Tudor met with Telford and Wrekin's Mayor Cllr Rae Evans. The team were there promoting the National Centre for Mental Health (NCMH). NCMH brings together researchers from Cardiff, Swansea and Bangor Universities, to learn more about the triggers and causes of mental health problems. To find out more, get in touch with the Research Team.

NIHR Webinar: How nurses can build a career in research – 11am on 22nd February

The NIHR will be hosting their next one hour webinar that will explore the opportunities available to nurses from the NIHR to pursue a clinical academic career.

Nurses are in a unique position on the frontline to see where the gaps are in delivering care and what questions need answering. Pursuing a clinical academic career can provide a stimulating and rewarding career pathway.

Training and career development awards from the NIHR range across all levels, are open to a wide range of professions and designed to suit different working arrangements and career pathways.

The webinar will be presented by Dr Pete Thompson, Assistant Director at the NIHR Trainees Coordinating Centre and HEE/NIHR Senior Clinical Research Fellow Kirsty Winkley, Specialist Diabetes Nurse.

You can register for the webinar here

If you have any issues when registering please email

University of Worcester - Research degree Open Day 18th February

The University of Worcester are holding a research degree programmes open day on Saturday 18th February 2017.

This open day is for people interested in a Masters by Research (MRes), Master of Philosophy (MPhil), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Professional Doctorate (we offer DBA, EdD and DHSci).

What happens on an Open Day?

Throughout the day there will be a series of talks and activities. These will give you the opportunity to:

  • speak to MPhil/PhD course leaders
  • hear the benefits of doing a research degree at Worcester
  • find out how to put together a strong application
  • join a tour of the City Campus and The Hive

To find out more or book a place, visit

PhD Studentship: Exploring borderline personality disorder diagnosis in bipolar disorder in the UK

Closing date: Monday 5th June 2017 (9am)
Interview date: Wednesday 28th or Thursday 29th June 2017

Applications are invited for a fully-funded full-time PhD studentship exploring the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder in individuals who have bipolar disorder in the UK.

This studentship addresses an important clinical issue that has previously received little research attention. The findings of this research have the potential to influence diagnostic practice within this complex area of psychiatry.

For further information, please click here to view the flyer.


PhD Studentship: Illness and Treatment Perceptions in Bipolar Disorder

Closing date: Monday 5th June 2017 (9am)
Interview date: Wednesday 28th or Thursday 29th June 2017

Applications are invited for a fully-funded full-time PhD studentship exploring illness and treatment perceptions in bipolar disorder.

This PhD will provide an opportunity for further investigation into the development, content and impact of illness and treatment perceptions amongst people diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

For further information, please click here to view the flyer.

Primary Care Mental Health Conference: Ethics, a friend of research

Hosted by Research Institute, Primary Care & Health Sciences, Keele University

On 16th March 2017

For more information, please click here to view the flyer.

PhD studentship in the area of perinatal mental health

Closing date: Sunday 13th November 2016
Interview date: Wednesday 23rd November 2016

The University of Worcester is seeking to grow its research capacity in relation to adult mental health. Applications are invited for a full-time fully-funded PhD studentship in perinatal mental health to commence in January 2017.

The University of Worcester and its partner, South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Trust are offering this jointly funded studentship to explore and develop perinatal mental healthcare. The studentship is based at the University of Worcester.

Mental health difficulties affect a significant proportion of women during pregnancy or early parenthood and can have serious effects on the whole family. Research shows that not all women access the treatment they need at this time. This studentship will investigate current practice and theory in this area using a mixture of qualitative and quantitative research methods.

The student will work within the vibrant multi-disciplinary Institute of Health & Society at the University of Worcester, which has a strong track record in perinatal mental health research. The student will benefit from close links with SSSFT. SSSFT provides mental health, learning disability and children and family services across South Staffordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, including specialist mother and baby services.

For more information please click here to view the advert.

SSSFT is 5th best recruiter for the ATLAS study

We are delighted to find out that we are the 5th top recruiter in the country for the ATLAS study. Our Redwoods research team have been sent a bottle of champagne from the ATLAS study team to celebrate.

The ATLAS study is looking at the use of antipsychotic treatment for people with very late-onset schizophrenia-like psychosis. For more information, please click here see our current study opportunities page.

OK to Ask 2016 Research Cafe

To celebrate the NIHR’s 2016 Ok to Ask campaign and International Clinical Trials Day, the Trust Research and Innovation team are holding Research Cafes at St George’s and Redwoods on Tuesday 17th May, 10am - 12pm.

It’s a chance to find out more about the SSSFT R&I department, who we are, what we do and how we can support you. We’ll have lots of free coffee, tea and delicious cake and all staff and service users are welcome, the more the merrier!

Take a look at our flyers for more information - click here for Stafford and click here for Shrewsbury.

We enjoy the opportunity to meet people face-to-face, staff, service users and carers so please pop along for a chat and a piece of cake!

Health Research Authority Approval

As planned, Health Research Authority Approval (HRA) was fully implemented on 31 March 2016 and is now the route for applying for approvals for all project-based research in the NHS led from England. For further information please click here to visit our governance page or contact us directly on 01785 783170 or

How to develop the research question for clinical research
By Dr Saeed Farooq

Tuesday 26th April 2016
1.00pm - 2.00pm
Theatre 3, Learning Centre, St George’s

Dr Saeed Farooq starts our 2016 R&I lunchtime seminar series on the subject of developing the research question. Dr Saeed Farooq is a Senior Clinical Lecturer at the Research Institute for Primary Care & Health Sciences, Keele University and an Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist based here at the Trust.


How many times have you thought this is a really interesting and challenging topic for research but then gave up because you were not sure how to start? If you have an enquiring mind, this must have occurred to you a number of times. The real challenge is how to convert an interesting clinical query into a proper research question.

Asking a proper research question is the most important step in any research. Too often research fails
because of poorly developed research questions. If the research question is properly developed, it should be possible to conduct the research even with limited resources. In this talk, Dr Farooq will elaborate on how to develop a research question. This talk is based on Dr Farooq’s experience of facilitating research methodology workshops and completing a number of clinical research projects over the years.


The talk will be suitable for all those who think they are too busy to do research, from consultants to nursing staff. ALL WELCOME!

Click here to view the flyer.

Book a Place

To book a free place, please contact Kate or Audrey in the R&I office:

Kate Williams: or 01785 783183 (ext. 7128783)
Audrey Bright: or 01785 783170 (ext. 7128770)

Our dementia research team designed a poster for the ENRICH West Midlands event this Thursday 17th March 2016. This networking and information sharing event aims to celebrate the collaboration with care homes and achievements over the last year.

SSSFT participated in the MARQUE study which examined the link between dementia-related agitation and quality of life for residents in care homes. The study is now in its follow up phase. SSSFT’s recruitment target of 27 participants was thoroughly exceeded; the final total was 181 participants, which represents a mixture of residents, relatives and care home staff.

The poster celebrates this success and reflects on the process from study set up through to recruitment and follow up from the perspective of researchers, residents, relatives and care home staff.

The overwhelming response from all stake holders was positive. Care home staff embraced the opportunity to participate and felt that it reflected well on their care home to be involved; relatives welcomed the opportunity to be part of a process that might influence care for others in the future; those residents well enough to participate expressed satisfaction in being able to voice their opinions and have them listened to.

The poster also highlights challenges faced by all, for example coping with staffing shortages, conflicting priorities and change of management within the homes, and how research staff called on their own skills and experience in dementia care to meet these challenges and ensure the success of the project.

Click here to see our poster.

We are pleased to announce that Professor Eleanor Bradley and Professor Athula Sumathipala will be delivering a workshop on Qualitative Research Methods on behalf of the R&I department.

There is a summary of the workshop below and if you are interested in finding out more or booking a place, click here to head over to our Training page.

Understanding Thematic Analysis: An Introductory Workshop to Qualitative Methods

When: Thursday 17th March 2016, 9.00am - 4.30pm
Where: Beacon Conference Centre, Staffordshire, Technology Park, Stafford, ST18 0GB

This free one day workshop hosted by the Research and Innovation department will consider the important role of qualitative research in understanding complex issues within healthcare. Thematic analysis is a key approach for those working with qualitative data, including verbal and written feedback.

We have just started planning our annual OK to Ask coffee morning which will be held on Tuesday 17th May 2016 this year.

Come along to Room 3 in the Learning centre to find out more about what we do in the research department and ask us anything you want to know about research in the Trust. Not only that but we'll have tea, coffee and delicious cakes so come and get involved!

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