New research hub launches in Weymouth


The Weymouth Research Hub is now open, and local people are invited to come forward and get involved. This new NHS-backed centre offers people in Weymouth, Portland and across West Dorset the chance to take part in vital, life-saving clinical trials.

Set up in the renovated Linden Unit, the hub is a joint venture between two NHS Trusts, Dorset HealthCare and Dorset County Hospital. The team will receive ongoing support from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Wessex.

The first volunteers to take part will be involved in helping research COVID-19 vaccines. The hub will mainly run healthy volunteer trials. Future trials are likely to include seasonal influenza studies, research into respiratory vaccines and vaccines developed for babies and children.

“We really want to see this hub become a focus for bringing new NHS vaccines, treatments and tests to the people of Weymouth,” said Professor Saul Faust, Clinical Director of the NIHR Clinical Research Network in Wessex. “We’d really like people from all backgrounds, ages and way of life to take part. The more people who take part in research, the better the results and the more relevant it is to our whole population. So please do all you can to help us spread the word.”

Weymouth and Portland are among the most deprived areas in Wessex, according to the government’s indices of deprivation. Those living in coastal communities also experience some of the worst health (see notes).

Dr Patrick Moore, Dorset GP and Associate Clinical Director of the NIHR Clinical Research Network, added:

“Research is vitally important in developing new treatments and improving health. The new research hub brings opportunities to Weymouth and the surrounding region. Up until now the population in west Dorset have not had the chance to be part of research in this way. Taking part is the key to developing the best treatments, interventions and care moving forward.”

The hub joins three others set up by NIHR Wessex and running very successfully - Southampton, Bournemouth and Portsmouth. The hubs are part of Wessex Health Partners, the new pan-regional partnership of NHS and academic organisations across the region. Together the hubs work in collaboration with the NIHR Clinical Research Facility in Southampton. These centres played a frontline role during the COVID-19 pandemic in helping with the development of new vaccines. Thousands of people across the south came forward to volunteer and without their contribution it would not have been possible to set up the national vaccination programme.

Dorset County Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Alastair Hutchison said:

“Enabling our local population to take part in research trials is a fundamental part of the NHS Constitution for England. The Weymouth Research Hub builds on all that we learned during COVID-19 about the importance of participation in research. This new venture will also cement our links with the research networks of Bournemouth and Southampton Universities which will bring numerous long-term benefits to patients and NHS staff across the county.”

Professor Faisil Sethi, Chief Medical Officer of Dorset HealthCare, said:

“This facility allows people the opportunity to take part in forward-thinking clinical trials and helps us continue to protect the population against constantly changing viruses such as COVID-19. Dorset HealthCare looks forward to collaborations and partnership working with NIHR CRN Wessex, together with our research department from Dorset County Hospital in this important area of work.”

Christine McGrath, Managing Director of Wessex Health Partners, said:

“We're delighted to see the opening of the Weymouth Research Hub, which will bring exciting new opportunities for the local community to join research studies into health and wellbeing. It’s fantastic to see organisations across Wessex forming new partnerships and collaborations, making participating in research easier and ensuring we meet the needs of whole communities. This will benefit the local population and wider society, helping people live healthier and better lives now, and in the future.”

The hub will be officially opened by the Mayor of Weymouth Cllr Kate Wheller at a special event on Tuesday 13th June.

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