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Figures show "new high" in NHS patients participating in clinical research

Press release   •   Jul 01, 2013 09:59 BST

A report released by the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network (the clinical research delivery arm of the NHS) shows that more than 630,000 NHS patients in England took part in clinical research studies last year – the highest level since the Network’s figures began.

Clinical research is a vital part of the work of the NHS, and a commitment to conduct, promote and use clinical research to improve patient care is part of the NHS England Constitution. 

Funded by the Department of Health, the NIHR Clinical Research Network supports the delivery of clinical research in the NHS in England. The Network does this by funding research nurses to identify suitable patients, and carry out the clinical activities required by the studies.  It also provides funds to cover the cost of using scanners, x-rays and other equipment for research purposes. 

For the past six years, the Network has been collecting data on the number of patients who volunteer to take part in clinical research studies, and has seen the trend for participation increase year on year.

Dr Jonathan Sheffield is chief executive of the NIHR Clinical Research Network.  He said:

“According to our latest poll, 79 per cent of people think it is important for the NHS to carry out clinical research – whilst less than three per cent think it is unimportant.  There is huge public support out there for research, but there also needs to be a good mechanism for identifying patients who are suitable for particular studies, and asking them if they would like to get involved.  The NIHR Clinical Research Network’s nurses provide that mechanism, and through their work we have seen the annual number of patients taking part in clinical research triple over the last six years.  That is fantastic news, and I’d like to thank all the patients and carers who have taken part in research, and who have made a contribution to improving NHS treatments for everyone.”

According to Dr Sheffield,99 per cent of NHS Trusts in England now carry out some clinical research studies, but he still believes there is more to do.  He said:

“Our vision is for participation in a clinical research study to be a treatment option for all patients, no matter where they are treated or what condition they have.  We are still a way off that, but with the number of patients involved in clinical research up seven per cent last year, things are heading in the right direction.”

The National Institute for Health Research - Clinical Research Network:  delivering research to make patients, and the NHS, better.

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