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Major Research Milestone with Wessex Research Buses Official Launch

The buses on display in Southampton's Guildhall Square

The first ever Wessex Research Buses have been officially launched at a special ceremony in the centre of Southampton. These mobile clinics are equipped to deliver health studies all around the region, meaning many more people will be able to take part in research. 

“Today was all about celebrating the arrival of the buses,” said Dr Patrick Moore, Associate Director of the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network Wessex. “We know these buses are going to help us get many more people involved in our studies, and that’s good news for everyone. Patients who take part in research have better health outcomes, and healthy volunteers who put themselves forwards for trials really enjoy giving something back to the health system.” 

The ribbons were cut by Kate Parker and her 18-month-old twin daughters, Jess and Ellie. They recently took part in the Harmonie trial, which showed giving a new antibody treatment to babies could dramatically cut hospital admissions from Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). 

Kate Parker cuts the ribbons with help from daughters Jess and Ellie, and Grandad Andy Jones

“It’s a real honour to officially launch these new vehicles,” said Kate. “Although we were really happy to go to Royal South Hants Hospital to take part in Harmonie, delivering trials on the road will make it much easier to get involved. Finding hospital parking is tricky and then there’s the problem of finding your way around. Lots of people would like to contribute to research to help protect future generations, like us, and the buses really will help.”

A key goal of the buses is to help include communities historically under-served by research opportunities. These include ethnic groups, older people, groups affected by a specific health condition, carers, LGBTQ+, travellers and those living in deprived, isolated and rural areas.

The buses are already being lined up to help deliver an innovative asthma study as well as a dementia trial. They will be used across Hampshire, Dorset, the Isle of Wight and parts of Wiltshire. 

They are also available to hire by anyone interested in using them to deliver clinical research or clinical treatments, for outreach and engagement events, or to carry out public consultations.

Kelly Adams, Deputy Chief Operating Officer of CRN Wessex, said: “We are so happy to reach today’s milestone. The buses represent our major goals for research - to include people who have never had the chance to get involved, and to really transform healthcare in our area.”

Students from Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) took on the challenge of designing the bus which will be most regularly used in under-served communities. “It’s really great to see the bus up and running,” said Thomas Roberts, one of the student-led design team. “It looks even better than we had hoped, and it’s great to know it will be doing such important work to develop better care and treatments for the future.”

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