A consultant cardiologist at the Royal Free London with a passion for improving the care and lives of patients, now and in the future, has been presented with an award for outstanding research leadership. 

Dr Ameet Bakhai received his award from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), for his research work and dedication to promoting patient access to innovations in cardiovascular disease.

This is alongside his role as a cardiologist at Barnet Hospital, where he set up and led a cardiovascular research team since 2007 which recruited more than 1,000 patients to trials by 2011.

Dr Bakhai said: “From the beginning I was determined to provide patients access to research studies and the latest medications, devices and digital technologies and to show colleagues that research can be undertaken alongside full time clinical commitments, even at a ‘local’ hospital.”

Dr Bakhai became the first dedicated research and development director at Barnet Hospital in 2012 and in 2015 held the post of North Thames Clinical Research Network’s cardiovascular research lead, supporting over 30 trials and achieving a recruitment target of 2,500 patients into cardiovascular trials in just one year.

Dr Bakhai is now the clinical lead for cardiovascular, renal, stroke and diabetes research and development at the Royal Free London. He is one of five directors supporting over 600 research studies, with more than 90 research staff and also a steering group member of UKRD (an organisation for the UK research and development leadership community in the NHS), which formed this year. The Royal Free London recruited its highest ever number of patients into NIHR portfolio studies in 2017, with Barnet Hospital making a significant and growing contribution. From speaking to local expert patient groups, sharing information with Barnet Hospital Charity and setting up and delivering open access research days, Dr Bakhai remains committed to research innovation.

He said: “I’m always looking for gaps in knowledge for patient management and to find or help design trials to help inform the answers.”

He adds: “I have always approached patients in my clinics, my ward rounds and after procedures to talk about ongoing trials. I am candid about where medicine is at its limits and share these gaps, without causing fear or doubt. This usually results in patients agreeing to be kept informed about the trials and how they might be suitable to take part.”

Dr Bakhai said the award was also recognition for the team effort involved from all his colleagues who support the research at Barnet Hospital and the ground-breaking work also taking place at the Royal Free Hospital.  

Chris Streather, Royal Free London group chief medical officer, said: “This is a well-deserved award for Dr Bakhai and his team and the wider research community at the Royal Free London. It highlights the importance of clinical research in clinical practice and how opportunities to participate in studies are also at the centre of day-to-day healthcare, because research improves treatments for the future.”