City researchers save NHS £300m

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SCIENTIFIC research into an array of medical problems carried out by staff in Edinburgh are saving the NHS up to £300 million a year, it has been estimated.

The studies by Edinburgh University and NHS Lothian into diverse medical problems such as use of blood during transfusions and work on the causes and problems associated with childhood obesity, have been credited with saving lives in more than 100 countries worldwide.

And the results have also helped to improve healthcare for millions of people in the UK – cutting down on the amount of NHS care they require.

In a university report to NHS Lothian health board, 26 projects were highlighted as having made significant improvements in patient health and bringing substantial economic benefits.

Researchers have helped to cut heart attack rates with a user-friendly scoring system that helps doctors identify patients at the highest risk so that they can deliver appropriate care.

Another study has safely reduced the use of blood transfusions during surgery, saving precious blood donations and around £100 million each year.

Edinburgh’s stroke research has improved both diagnosis and treatment of the condition, saving thousands of lives and helping thousands more to avoid disability.

The figure represents a return of £147 for every pound of public money invested in research.

Professor John Iredale, head of the Medical School at the university, said: “These studies encapsulate the extraordinary strength of medical research that takes place in Edinburgh, where university and NHS researchers work hand in glove to deliver real benefit for the NHS, the community and the country. Additionally, there are superb examples of our staff making a real difference to the lives and health of individuals in the developing world.”

The case studies were collected for the university’s submission to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, an assessment of the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

The university and NHS Lothian’s clinical research was rated in the top five in the UK for quality and breadth.

Dr David Farquharson, medical director at NHS Lothian, said: “We’re exceptionally proud of our reputation in clinical research and our well-established ties with the University of Edinburgh.

“Encouraging high-quality research by clinical staff results in real benefits for patients by helping to develop new treatments, improving patient care and addressing the impact of today’s greatest health problems.”