Date: 21 November 2017
Dr Kyla Thomas joined the Clinical Research Network West of England in October 2017. Here she discusses her initial interest in the CRN and what she hopes to build on and improve while in post.
So, what made you excited about seeing the vacancy advertised for the West of England Clinical Research Network Clinical Director Designate post?
K: I’m a Public Health Consultant for South Gloucestershire local authority, and also I have a Clinical Academic role at the University of Bristol. As part of my consultant role I started to get involved with the Clinical Research Network (CRN) Public Health National Specialty Group, so I would attend the London meetings and meet with Public Health specialty leads from across the country. I started to get really interested in the Clinical Research Network as I learned more about it; I’d also had to contact the CRN for study support costs for my own studies.
When attending the NSG meetings I started thinking about how we could improve the number of studies in non-traditional settings on the CRN portfolio (which is of particular relevance to Public Health research), and I realised the way forward would be through having a more strategic role within the CRN.
I knew nationally there’s thinking that research should be carried out according to population need and Professor Chris Whitty has talked about how he wants more research to happen in non NHS settings (for example public health and social care settings). It’s something I’m passionate about, so when I saw the vacancy everything came together.
Obviously, the research that happens in NHS Trusts and NHS settings is crucial, but capturing and capitalising upon the work outside of these traditional NHS settings is really important.
What have your first impressions of your first four days been like?
K: I think it’s a team that has been working really hard and continue to work hard. I can gather there have been challenges but so much work has already been done to correct previous difficulties. There is also so much strength to build on in this region with the excellent research carried out within local Universities and the talent in the area, and I have been thinking about the opportunities we have to ensure that every patient in our region has the opportunity to take part in clinical trials and other kinds of research to benefit everyone's health. Also, my title changed from Clinical Director Designate to Clinical Co-Director, which is probably easier for everyone to understand.
What are your overall aims in the role?
K: I want to get to know the team and also key stakeholders and partners - who are crucial to a successful CRN - to discover their own strategic aims. I want to meet with people we may not have talked to before and ensure they are involved in the conversation. I’m really interested in building links – keeping our strong links with areas such as primary care – but also to look at exploring growth areas. I want to make the CRN more visible, and there’s work to do on that.
I am coming to the CRN wearing my consultant in Public Health cap, but also as an academic. In a way there’s an overlap and I am hoping to use the transferable skills I get from each area. There are so many exciting things already going on and that we can do in the future and I’m looking forward to leading that.
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