An Update on Resuming Research Projects

The following statement was published by North Bristol NHS Trust on Friday 30 October 2020 - 12:00

“Health and care leaders in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are bringing in additional support measures from Monday (2 November) to ensure that local services are better able to cope with increasing demand as a result of the recent rise in coronavirus cases.

The measures - designed to protect people and make best use of resources across the health and care system – include:

  • Faster discharge for all hospital admissions, ensuring that people leave hospital as soon as they are medically fit to do so. Community support will be available to ensure this takes place safely.
  • Enhanced mutual aid support between organisations, allowing staff to work more flexibly across settings and where resource is most needed.
  • Restarting a telephone support service to help avoid hospital admissions.

There will also be further wraparound support available for the area’s care homes”

As a result of these measures our studies on MS Related Tremor (Charmed MS) taking place at Southmead Hospital will not be able to resume until the present lock-down restrictions are lifted and when the level of COVID19 is substantially reduced in the Bristol area. 

This is sad but the Research Support  Department at Southmead is supported by NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) and is working to their advice. NIHR supports all NHS based research management departments with help and advice avoid risks to patients and staff where COVID levels are high.  Unfortunately, this is the case in Bristol and as NIHR non-commercial partners* it is important that we are seen to be compliant with all advice and directives affecting the research we are funding.

Fortunately, this will only delay our progress in finding better ways of helping those who have MS related tremor and other movement disorders. Hopefully, we should be able to re-start this work early in the New Year.  We will, of course, keep everyone posted on when we are able to resume this project.

Studies on the impact of MS related fatigue being carried out at CRIC (Clinical Research Imaging Centre) Bristol were virtually completed during 2020 and are currently being prepared for publication. We had hoped to start a new series of studies on how changes in brain function, linked to fatigue might also impact on other activities such as decision making and memory. Sadly, the University of Bristol has decided to close the CRIC to further research for the foreseeable future. We hope that some research time on the specialised scanner based at CRIC Bristol will become available for new studies in the New Year but there is no guarantee of this. We are investigating whether other CRIC resources may be available for this study, but it is likely that most of the other sites who have research imaging centres will be dedicating time to COVID patients rather than those with neurological conditions. However, we will keep investigating other sites for this leading-edge research.

MS Research is still committed to seeking better ways to help those who live with MS and to better understand the condition. We already have two new grant applications awaiting review and will continue to seek the best possible MS research projects to support as we get COVID-19 under control nationally.

*Charities like MS Research that fund research in the NHS are eligible to be non-commercial partners with NIHR. This give suitable projects a further level of approval alongside the normal scientific and clinical approvals that we work to and supports our aims to introduce new approaches to MS clinical management and promote their uptake with service commissioners. We feel strongly that new information based on successful, high quality research should be made available as widely as possible within the NHS.


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