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New Oxford Brain Health Centre (BHC) open. Developed with the involvement of members of the public with lived experience of memory problems, the centre is a combined clinical and research service which has the potential to revolutionise NHS memory services.

A patient and two staff standing by the MRI scanner in the Brain Health Centre.

Located at the Warneford Hospital in Oxford, the Centre is beginning a six month pilot involving 150 patients who will be referred through local memory clinics. It will provide access to high quality memory assessments alongside the opportunity to participate in research studies and trials. 

By embedding research in the NHS service, the Centre aims to help prepare the health system for the future of dementia treatment and prevention. This innovative and ambitious approach could become a model that can be adopted throughout the NHS.  

Professor Clare Mackay, Professor of Imaging Neuroscience, University of Oxford and NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre Theme Lead for Older Adults and Dementia, said,

“Opening the Brain Health Centre is the culmination of a huge amount of collaborative effort from the University of Oxford and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, to create a truly integrated clinical research service. We will be able to offer memory clinic patients the best quality assessments, and will create the platform for developing and refining new treatments in the years ahead.”

When patients referred with memory problems attend their BHC appointment they will be able to access assessments which are currently not routinely available. This will include more detailed MRI scans rather than CT scans and other newly developed and highly sensitive diagnostic tools. The results of the assessment will be fed into the patient’s clinical notes enabling doctors caring for them to make more confident and accurate diagnoses.  

Alongside their assessment patients will be offered the opportunity to participate in research. This might involve completing additional research assessments on the day or opting in to be contacted about future research studies for which they could be eligible.

Dr Lola Martos, Head of Older Adult Services at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, said,

“Despite the advances in Neurosciences research, clinical assessments in memory clinics have barely changed. The Brain Health Centre is a remarkable offer for our patients who will benefit from advanced imaging and pioneering research opportunities. It is also an exceptional opportunity for clinicians to get involved in research.  The Brain Health Centre brings together research and clinical work for the benefit of patients. It is a dream come true.”

Both service users and clinicians will be asked to evaluate the service before it is expanded to other memory clinics. The Centre will encourage further collaborative research by making all its data available to the scientific community through the BHC Research Database. 

Dr Vanessa Raymont, NIHR Dementia and Mental Health Lead for the Thames Valley and South Midlands Clinical Research Network and Senior Clinical Researcher and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist, University of Oxford, said,

“We are extremely proud that the Oxford Brain Health Centre is the first psychiatry-led initiative of its type in the UK, and is part of a growing network of similar services nationwide and internationally. It is driven by the pressing need to review how memory clinic services can improve diagnostic and prognostic assessments, especially with increasing evidence that risks for dementia could be modifiable and treatable in the coming years."

The Centre is funded by the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre, a collaboration between Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Oxford. 

For further information about the Brain Health Centre.

NIHR OXFORD HEALTH BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH CENTRE NEWS

Please follow the link below to read the news on the NIHR BRC website.

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