RILD is now open for business.

Cutting-edge health innovation centre will improve patient care

A newly-built £27.5 million health education and research centre is now open, streamlining the process from discovery to patient care.

The state-of-the-art Research, Innovation, Learning and Development (RILD) building is a partnership between the University of Exeter Medical School and the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E), and is part-funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Wolfson Foundation.

The building will streamline the medical research process. Patient studies, laboratory studies and then education of health care professionals of new findings will all occur in a single building. It also provides a forum for students, researchers and clinicians to come together and ensure that medical research is relevant for the needs of the NHS.

Professor Angela Shore, head of research at the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “We are absolutely delighted that this stunning new building is enhancing our work to ensure clinical science is focussed on where it is most needed within healthcare. Our close partnership with the RD&E means that in many cases, clinicians are directly involved in research and this means our breakthroughs will have direct impact on patients in the South West and across the globe.”

The new facility, on Barrack Road, is connected to the Medical School’s existing building. It encompasses the Postgraduate Education Centre, the Wellcome Wolfson Medical Research Centre and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Exeter Clinical Research Facility. In addition, RILD has a strong focus on multi-professional learning and development. Its seminar rooms will be used by the Trust’s learning and development team to train managers and a wide range of other non-medical staff.

Professor Andrew Hattersley heads up one of the University of Exeter Medical School research teams in the new building and is the Research and Development Director for the RD&E.. He said: “These new facilities are a real asset to Exeter: they will greatly improve the research we can do and will help attract top research scientists to Exeter. My area of expertise is diabetes: this new centre means we can design and carry out studies on patients with diabetes, test samples from them in state of the art scientific analysers and communicate results to our clinical colleagues, all in the same building. It puts Exeter right at the front of healthcare innovation world-wide.”

Part of the top quality research provision is the NIHR Exeter Clinical Research Facility, which is set up to understand the mechanisms of disease and treatment by studying patients. One study, called the Exeter 10,000 Project, involves collecting information and samples from 10,000 volunteers. This research register has already recruited more than 6,000 people and is enabling researchers to seek answers on some of the greatest healthcare issues facing society. Volunteers get a free health check, their samples are analysed in laboratories directly opposite the wards, and the anonymised results are analysed by researchers in the building.

Dr Chris Mulgrew, Deputy Director of Medical Education at the RD&E, said: “In conjunction with its partners, the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust developed a vision for the RILD project which would promote an environment capable of inspiring health professionals of all kinds to aspire to excellence in the knowledge, understanding and delivery of healthcare.

"RD&E staff will benefit from the state-of-the-art facilities in the RILD. Now completed and easily accessible to staff on the main hospital site, this allows access to a research and learning campus capable of providing a seamless transition from undergraduate to postgraduate training.  Importantly, this includes facilities to enhance learning and promote patient safety in an educational environment through the use of real-life simulation scenarios, building on experience accumulated from the Exeter Simulation Project since its inception in 2008, and by better understanding ‘human factors’ during team training.”

The centre has been built to the highest design specification. It replaces the old RD&E Postgraduate Education Centre, and 90 per cent of the demolished building was recycled. The spectacular building pushes the boundaries of eco-friendly design by combining renewable energy, heat recovery and an external solar shading solution – the external “fins” which control light, heat and glare levels. The building has high levels of natural light and spaces specifically designed to encourage integration among occupants, to promote collaboration. It has been awarded a BREEAM excellent rating in the world's foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings.

Richard Ellis, UK Operations Director for Interserve Construction, said: “We are delighted to have delivered this stunning world leading research innovation learning and development facility for two highly regarded clients in Exeter. The sustainable ethos of the building which culminated in a “Breeam Excellent” rating was demonstrated through the design, materials, technology and extensive use of the local supply chain. We are extremely proud of this unique building and the benefits it will help to realise in medical science.”

Date: 24 March 2014

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