National award to increase research in children’s intensive care

Avatar photo
By Maxine Myers June 19, 2023

Imperial College London has been awarded funding to set up an incubator to further develop research in Paediatric Critical Care.

The National Institute for Health and Social Care Research (NIHR) has selected Imperial College London to host the paediatric critical care incubator for three years.

The NIHR Incubator programme was established in 2018 and is designed to address areas where there is a need to build research capacity on a national level. Incubators encourage networking, training and career development support for health and care professionals.

The Paediatric critical care incubator is one of ten nationally and aims to increase academic training and research in paediatric critical care and encourage staff to pursue clinical academic careers.

Paediatric critical care

High-quality, evidence-based clinical practice in paediatric critical care has the potential to save children’s lives and improve lifelong health, yet research in paediatric critical care has traditionally lagged behind other specialities. Few NIHR research fellowships have been awarded in the speciality, and junior clinicians often view research careers as challenging, risky, and difficult to attain.

Demand for paediatric critical care services is increasing by around 5 per cent per year in the UK. In England, around 16,500 critically ill children are admitted to Paediatric Intensive Care Units every year, with around 8-10 per cent of children admitted to hospital going on to require critical care.

Increasing research

The Paediatric Critical Care Incubator aims to address the lack of research in this area by increasing training events, connecting staff working in paediatric critical care to training and mentorship opportunities. It will also liaise with patients and the public to seek their advice on the direction of research training.

The Incubator will also aim to ensure diversity in representation (clinical academics and clinicians with a research interest; senior and junior researchers; medical and nursing staff; and strong representation from ethnic minorities and women).

The incubator is led by Dr Padmanabhan Ramnarayan, Clinical Reader in Paediatric Critical Care in the Department of Surgery and Cancer and Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Intensive Care at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. He said:

“This NIHR Incubator funding provides an exciting opportunity to train and provide mentorship to early-career researchers in my specialty so that the future of paediatric critical care research can be secured. Paediatric Intensive Care is a relatively young speciality and we do not have enough of our staff doing research.

“We need evidence-based research to help us inform patient care and to develop and grow this area of medicine so we can make further improvements to children’s lives and longer-term health.

“This award will allow us to lead the national effort to develop research in paediatric intensive care and I look forward to working with our stakeholders to drive through much needed change and improvement.”

The partners in the Paediatric Critical Care Incubator are the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, Edge Hill University, Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Bristol Children’s Hospital.