A ‘trailblazing’ physio who works with people with a genetic blood disorder has been honoured for his huge contribution to research.

Paul McLaughlin, a clinical specialist physiotherapist in haemophilia at the Royal Free Hospital has been named Allied Health Professional Researcher of the Year by the British Society for Haematology (BSH) and the National Institute for Health Research. 

In the past few years Paul has helped recruit more than 200 patients to clinical studies focussed on musculoskeletal issues associated with haemophilia. The award committee commended Paul for “outstanding research work” and “for creating a supportive environment for colleagues and the wider NHS”.

From the start patient input has been key in influencing the types of the studies Paul has undertaken, ensuring it is the kind of research that patients want to take part in. Paul is currently working on an NIHR-funded PhD investigating the feasibility of using exercise to manage chronic pain associated with haemophilic arthritis. The study, co-designed by people with haemophilia and other haemophilia specialist physiotherapists, evaluated a six week, low impact, moderate intensity exercise programme delivered virtually over MS Teams. It is hoped that a better understanding of such an approach will inform the development of a larger UK trial to better inform options for pain management in this population.

Paul said: “I am honoured to receive this award and want to pay tribute to my amazing colleagues in the haemophilia centre as well as the people with haemophilia who I am very privileged to have the opportunity to work with. This award highlights the value that clinical academic allied health professionals can bring to research and the importance of involving patients in identifying and creating research activities that are meaningful to them.”

Dr Cherry Kilbride, lead AHP for research and practice development, said: “We are immensely proud of Paul's achievement, both as a physiotherapist and allied health professional. Paul's commitment to improving his patients’ quality of life through his research embodies what it is to be a clinical academic. He is a trailblazer.”

Professor Pratima Chowdary, director of the haemophilia centre said: “Paul has continued the centre’s tradition of excellence in research and we congratulate him for his achievement. Clinicians and patients were delighted that he chose to invest time and effort in an area identified as important by patients. We welcome Paul’s role as a clinical academic within the centre and organisation, particularly shaping the role of physiotherapy in rare disorders.”

Pic: L-R - Dr Cherry Kilbride and Paul McLaughlin