Record number of patients take part in clinical research


Credit: (c) NIHR

The number of people benefiting from clinical research in England reached record highs this year – with over eight hundred and seventy thousand (870,250) participants involved in studies supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network over the last twelve months.

The latest research figures from NIHR – covering the period April 2018 to March 2019 – show that across the board, clinical research in England is thriving and that the NHS continues to provide the optimum environment for the life sciences industry to deliver research.

Life sciences research – improving the health and wealth of the nation:

The number of new commercial studies set up across the year reached record levels – with 740 new studies sponsored by the life sciences industry registered on the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) portfolio in 2018/19, bringing the total number of studies being delivered in partnership with commercial organisations to 1,523.

The number of participants taking part in commercial contract studies also remains high for the second year in succession. The NIHR CRN helped recruit 46,064 participants to commercial studies – the second largest number on record.

Dr Jonathan Sheffield OBE, Chief Executive of NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) said: “Despite the changing healthcare environment, clinical research in England is thriving – with record numbers taking part in studies supported by the NIHR over the last year.

“As an organisation, we remain primed to provide high quality support and expertise that enables the life sciences industry to access key infrastructure and deliver research within the NHS and social care.

“Clinical research is vital for the UK economy and the NHS. More research being delivered within the UK by the life sciences industry, including global pharmaceutical companies, ultimately means more inward investment to the UK – aiding the economy by bringing in both jobs and services to the country while boosting NHS finances. We are pleased to see that the NHS continues to be seen as one of the very best places in the world in order to conduct high quality clinical research.”

Key areas of research:

Overall, the most participants were recruited into children’s research studies (81,892), studies delivered in primary care settings (78,533), childbirth and reproductive health research (74,128) , cancer research (67,652), and mental health research (65,645) leading the way in offering opportunities for patients to participate.

More studies than ever in England

The latest figures from NIHR show that patients now have more opportunity than ever to take part in clinical research and potentially benefit from new drugs or treatments – with a record number of new studies (2,194) supported by the NIHR over the year, bringing the total number of ongoing studies across England to 6,106 – the largest number yet. For the first time since 2015/16, every NHS trust across the country also supported clinical research by recruiting their patients into NIHR studies.

Sheila Walker from Leeds is currently taking part in her second clinical trial investigating a form of injectable radiotherapy to treat breast cancer.

Sheila said: “Taking part in research has been amazing and I feel honoured to be giving something back. My care has been tremendous and the love and personal care I have received from the team has made it a more pleasant journey. I feel like I am part of a family and I appreciate the little things the team do and ask about when I visit for treatment.”

Sheila would tell anyone thinking of taking part in a trial to go for it. “Why not? It’s great to contribute to research, and it is something I am very proud of.”

NIHR: Making it easier for people to ‘Be Part of Research’:

Increasing the number of people taking part in clinical research is a key part of the NHS Long Term Plan and the NIHR has taken steps to support this by launching a new website called Be Part of Research – which helps people to easily find and take part in studies across the UK.

Baroness Blackwood, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care said: “From the eradication of smallpox and the discovery of penicillin, the UK has a strong track record of public health successes which have saved countless lives. All of our successes to date would have been impossible without world-leading research and the selfless volunteers who take part in clinical trials.

“Through our Long Term Plan, we are determined to make it even easier for people to get involved in research and the NIHR’s Be Part of Research website is an important step to making this happen.”


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