A 'REMARKABLE' specialist centre researching and helping people with memory problems has opened in the city.

Based at the Warneford Hospital, Oxford Brain Health Centre, the first of its kind in the UK, is beginning a six-month pilot involving 150 patients who will be referred through local memory clinics.

Developed with the involvement of people with experience of memory problems, the centre is a combined clinical and research service.

It will provide access to high-quality memory assessments alongside the opportunity to participate in research studies and trials.

By embedding research in the NHS service, the centre aims to help prepare the health system for the future of dementia treatment and prevention.

It is hoped the centre's approach could become a model that can be adopted throughout the NHS.

Professor Clare Mackay, professor of imaging neuroscience at Oxford University and one of the centre’s founders, said: “Opening the brain health centre is the culmination of a huge amount of collaborative effort from Oxford University and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, to create a truly integrated clinical research service."

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She added: "We will be able to offer memory clinic patients the best quality assessments, and will create the platform for developing and refining new treatments in the years ahead."

When patients referred with memory problems attend their appointment at the centre they will be able to access assessments which are currently not routinely available.

This will include more detailed MRI scans rather than CT scans and other newly developed and highly sensitive diagnostic tools.

Oxford Mail:

Warneford Hospital

The results of the assessment will be fed into the patient’s clinical notes and the hope is this will enable doctors caring for them to make more confident and accurate diagnoses.

Alongside their assessment patients will be offered the opportunity to participate in research.

This might involve completing additional research assessments on the day or opting in to be contacted about future research studies for which they could be eligible.

Dr Lola Martos, head of older adult services at Oxford Health said: “Despite the advances in neurosciences research, clinical assessments in memory clinics have barely changed.

"The brain health centre is a remarkable offer for our patients who will benefit from advanced imaging and pioneering research opportunities.

"It is also an exceptional opportunity for clinicians to get involved in research. The brain health centre brings together research and clinical work for the benefit of patients. It is a dream come true.”

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Both service users and clinicians will be asked to evaluate the service before it is expanded to other memory clinics.

The centre will encourage further collaborative research by making all its data available to the scientific community through the BHC Research Database.

Dr Vanessa Raymont, dementia and mental health lead for the Thames Valley and South Midlands Clinical Research Network, a lead researcher on the project, said: “We are extremely proud that the Oxford Brain Health Centre is the first psychiatry-led initiative of its type in the UK, and is part of a growing network of similar services nationwide and internationally.

"It is driven by the pressing need to review how memory clinic services can improve diagnostic and prognostic assessments, especially with increasing evidence that risks for dementia could be modifiable and treatable in the coming years.”

The centre is funded by the National Institute for Health Research Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre, a collaboration between Oxford Health and Oxford University.