The results are currently being analysed of two major research projects completed earlier this year at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Trust’s Research and Development Manager, Dr Martha Wrigley, has expressed her thanks to the 800-plus patients who agreed to take part.

She said: “We want to express our gratitude and appreciation to all those patients who helped us with these two studies. Their participation is extremely important and will make a major contribution to patient care in the future.”

The earlier - and larger - study involving more than 500 patients over four months, was a collaboration between researchers from Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals and Professor Ann Gallagher, Reader in Nursing Ethics at the University of Surrey, with Prof K Ota, Nursing Professor and Public Health Doctor, from the University of Nagoya in Japan. The study is designed to validate an International Patient Dignity Scale, which has the potential to be used worldwide.

Dr Wrigley said: “This is an important piece of research which will quantify and measure more closely and accurately what we really mean by Dignified Care, what dignity means to our patients and whether it meets their expectations.”

Once the results have been analysed, they will form the basis of a further study aimed at finding the key measures that would be effective in improving the satisfaction and expectation of patient dignity.

The second was a study into the effectiveness and acceptability of a new one-minute test for dry eye disease, suffered by millions of people, which occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears or produce poor quality tears. The new test takes a teardrop quickly and painlessly from each eye and instantly measures the osmolarity or salt content. More than 300 patients at the Ashford eye clinic were asked to take the test and complete a questionnaire. The test currently in use takes longer and is less accurate. Four other south-east hospital trusts also took part in the study.

Dr Wrigley said: “The study, which was sponsored and designed by TearLab Corporation UK, aims to establish the overall levels of raised and normal tear osmolarity in people presenting to the eye clinic, and relate this to other factors such as symptoms and topical medication. The data collected during the study will be compiled and analysed by NHS physicians in the UK.”