Two doctors at Hereford’s County Hospital are helping to lead the way in NHS research with recent findings from two studies.

Leading the five-year innovative studies are gastroenterology specialists Dr Sarah Townsend and Dr Bev Kok, whose findings have the potential to save and improve the lives of patients across the UK.

One of the studies, carried out by Dr Sarah Townsend and Dr Rupert Ransford, has shown that a standardised investigation pathway, developed in Hereford, is highly effective in identifying bowel cancer in patients referred to the hospital with iron deficiency anaemia.

In addition, patients with normal investigations can be strongly reassured that their risk of developing bowel cancer in the next five years is extremely low.

“Colon Cancer is very treatable if found early and these findings help to support diagnosing patients sooner so they can get timely treatment,” said Dr Townsend,whose research has been awarded a distinction for being in the top ten per cent of clinical research submitted across the country in the last year.

A separate innovative study led by Dr Bev Kok into patients referred to hospital for specialist investigations into very loose stools and possible irritable bowel syndrome, it was discovered that a significant number of these patients were in fact suffering from problems with absorbing bile salts which help digest fat.

Once this condition has been accurately diagnosed, treatment is very effective and results in a major improvement in the quality of life for many people, enabling most patients to return to a normal lifestyle.

Dr Townsend said: “We’re very excited to be at the cutting edge of clinical research to find better ways of delivering patient care. It’s rewarding to know that we are making a real difference to people’s lives”.

Study findings were presented at the British Society of Gastroenterologists national conference, where new clinical research is considered and then implemented throughout the NHS.

Dr Ransford, Consultant Gastroenterologist at Wye Valley NHS Trust, said the award reflected the “ambition and drive” of the hospital’s Gastroenterology Department toward clinical research studies.