Posted on Monday 19 October 2015
Research nurse Lucy Clack with Liz Bestic at St Thomas'.
A stroke patient is helping to shape exciting cardiovascular research to improve the quality of care and new treatments for diseases of the heart and blood vessels.
When Liz Bestic, 62, suffered a stroke while on holiday in Greece in 2010 there was no clear cause, meaning there was no obvious way of preventing further strokes occurring. It was only when she came to Guy’s and St Thomas’ that the hole in her heart, which can increase the risk of a stroke, was discovered and operated on.
After the hole in her heart was closed, Liz was so grateful that she decided to join the Cardiovascular Patient Advisory Group – a forum for patients to ask questions and to provide feedback on the Trust’s research projects relating to hearts and blood vessels.
Liz, who lives in north London, says: “I joined the patient advisory group because I wanted to give something back. I received amazing treatment from Guy’s and St Thomas’ and was keen to do whatever I could to help.”
Liz describes herself as a curious person who enjoys asking medical experts questions about their work and contributing her own ideas to the projects underway in the Trust.
The patient advisory group ensures that the patient perspective is a key part of research work. Patients review proposals for new studies, advise on how other patients could be recruited to participate in trials, and assist with the design of information materials so that they can be easily understood by patients and the public.
When discussing plans for a new treatment for Ventricular Tachycardia – a type of very fast heart rhythm that is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death – Liz and the other members of the group agreed that the proposals would be welcomed by patients.
They then worked to ensure that information sheets for patients were written in clear, jargon-free language, and that procedures were designed in a sensitive way that would reassure patients about the treatment they were going to receive.
Liz says: “Being a member of the group is a fascinating experience. I’m pleased that we’ve been able to ask questions from the patient perspective and to influence the design of new research and treatments. It’s great to be playing a part in the Trust’s brilliant cardiovascular work.”
Lucy Clack, cardiovascular research nurse, says: “Patients are central to everything we do, which is why it’s so useful to have patients who are willing to give up their time and get involved in our research.
“The Cardiovascular Patient Advisory Group has had a really positive impact. We benefit hugely from their advice and they’re key to our broad and ambitious research agenda for cardiovascular care at Guy’s and St Thomas’.”
The Cardiovascular Patient Advisory Group is supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’. Find out more about patient and public involvement in the Centre’s research.