The NIHR Clinical Research Network has today published its annual statistics which show that more than 618,000 patients took part in clinical research studies last year alone. During the year the Network hit a recruitment milestone of more than three million patients engaged in clinical research studies in just five years.
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. Research provides evidence about “what works” so that treatments for patients can be improved. In addition, there is some research evidence to show that patients do better in hospitals and surgeries that do research – even if they don’t actually take part in a study themselves.
Funded by the Department of Health, the NIHR Clinical Research Network is the research delivery arm of the NHS. The Network funds research nurses and health professionals 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.
Over 98 per cent of NHS Trusts and 41 per cent of General Medical Practices in England now carry out clinical research studies, but Jonathan Sheffield, Chief Executive Officer of the Network believes there is more to do:
“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. The Network reconfigured in 2014 to ensure that we are delivering studies across all therapy areas in the NHS throughout England. This will generate valuable opportunities for patients to take part in studies.”