Thomas Pinkney

Professor Tom Pinkney, George Drexler & Royal College of Surgeons Chair of Surgical Trials, University of Birmingham

Thomas Pinkney is George Drexler and Royal College of Surgeons Chair of Surgical Trials at the University of Birmingham, and a Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at University Hospitals Birmingham

Professor Pinkney is Director of the Birmingham Surgical Trials Consortium (BiSTC) and the Birmingham Centre for Observational and Prospective Studies (BiCOPS).  He is Chair of the IBD sub-committee of Association of Coloproctology of Great Birtain and Ireland (ACPGBI) and Vice-Chair of the Research Committee of the European Society of Coloproctology (ESCP).

Tom’s research interests are predominantly in clinical and translational research in inflammatory bowel disease and surgical site infection. As a founding member of the West Midlands Research Collaborative, he maintains an interest in development of trainee-led clinical trials in surgery and beyond. He sits on the NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) CET Board and until recently was deputy chair of the NIHR RfPB West Midlands Panel.

Presentations at the WReN Scientific Meeting, Glasgow, May 2022

SSI: Challenging the established evidence with large multicentre trials – and what happens if no benefit is found


After attending this session, persons will be able to:

  • Be bought up to date on some recently breaking results from major multicentre national and international RCTs in SSI
  • Explore how we might establish ‘who to believe’ when new research findings contradict current evidence or guidelines
  • Discuss how and if established interventions should be dropped


The importance of large-scale, multi-centre, pragmatic and externally valid randomised trials is increasingly recognised. Such projects have become easier to deliver recently due to the collaborative working paradigms in surgery and beyond, and the globalisation of surgical research means that what would have previously been impossible to deliver can now be realised within a realistic time frame.

In this talk, Professor Pinkney will discuss recent key findings emerging from three major multicentre trials:

SUNRRISE – Single Use Negative pRessure dressing for Reduction In Surgical site infection following Emergency laparotomy – An NIHR RfPB-funded RCT

FALCON – Pragmatic multicentre FActorial randomised controlled triaL testing measures to reduCe surgical site infection in lOw and middle income couNtries

ROSSINI 2 – Reduction Of Surgical Site Infection using several Novel Interventions – An NIHR HTA-funded multi-arm, multi-stage RCT of in-theatre interventions to reduce SSI

As is often the case when interventions are rigorously evaluated in large RCTs, the findings can challenge or contradict those of smaller-scale studies. How do we take this into consideration when there may be existing guidelines, based on the previously available evidence? Who do we believe?

The CHEETAH International Cluster RCT of glove and instrument change for wound closure to reduce SSI rates in patients undergoing abdominal surgery


After attending this session, persons will be able to:

  • Hear about this major international cluster-randomised RCT which centres on a type of behavioural change in surgeons to try and reduce SSI
  • Understand when a cluster randomised trial is more appropriate than an individual patient level RCT


Surgical site infection (SSI) represents a major burden for patients, doctors and health systems around the world, but is potentially preventable. SSI is the most common postoperative complication across all income and development settings, and the most common healthcare-associated infection in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). It has been associated with one-third of postoperative deaths and accounts for 8% of all deaths caused by a nosocomial infection. Rates vary significantly between different types of surgery, but it is particularly prevalent in abdominal operations; as many as one in four patients get an SSI when the operation involves the bowel.

CHEETAH is an international, multicentre, 2-arm, cluster randomised controlled trial evaluating  whether the practice of using separate, sterile gloves and instruments to close wounds at the end of surgery can reduce surgical site infection at 30-days post-surgery for patients undergoing clean-contaminated, contaminated or dirty abdominal surgery, compared to current routine hospital practice.

CHEETAH is being run by the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Global Surgery which is hosted at the University of Birmingham. The trial recruitment target is a total of 12,800 participants from 64 clusters (groups of hospitals), each unit including up to 200 consecutive participants.

Getting your research funded – tips and tricks


After attending this session, persons will be able to:

  • Hear from a member of the NIHR HTA and RfPB funding panels about how to increase your chances of a successful funding application
  • Common ‘red flags’ for funding committees and how to avoid them


There is no doubt that getting the most difficult research grant to get funded is your first one. With experience of the system, and a track record of successful delivery, the following grants get easier. There are standard mistakes which seen time and again on funding boards, which are easily avoidable. In this talk, Professor Pinkney will cover the key tips and tricks to make your project appeal to the reviewers and board, and show how to avoid those torpedos which can result in hours of wasted effort and frustrating disappointment.