New figures from the NIHR demonstrate success of UK clinical research


Health research is thriving in the UK with more people taking part in NHS clinical research than ever before, new figures from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) show.

Figures from the NIHR’s annual research statistics show that the number of people participating in life sciences industry studies rose by 45% from last year. More so, the NIHR was responsible for helping to recruit 50,112 participants into research studies within the NHS and other health settings across the UK.

The figures suggest that the UK and indeed the NHS is seen as a thriving hub in which high quality clinical trials can be delivered – potentially producing access to both new treatments and answers to important health questions.

Dr Jonathan Sheffield, chief executive officer of the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN), emphasises that clinical research is enabling patients to access ‘new and innovative forms of treatment’.

“Partnerships between the NHS and the life sciences industry bring a range of benefits to the healthcare sector – giving trusts access to new treatments and funding for health research, while also boosting the wider economy each year through the development of cutting edge medical innovations,” Sheffield said.

In 1997 Nicola Whitehill was told she had just over one year to live after being diagnosed with a rare, chronic degenerative disease – Raynaud’s and Scleroderma.

Now 45, Whitehill has taken part in three clinical trials in which she says has given her ‘a glimmer of hope’.

“Before I started taking part in clinical trials, having been told the disease I had was likely to kill me and had no cure – my situation was like a dark tunnel without any light at the end.

“Taking part in trials provided a glimmer of hope, giving me access to new treatments which potentially could improve my condition. I’d recommend taking part in a clinical trial to any patient if they have the opportunity,” Whitehill said.

In total, over 725,000 participants signed up for clinical research studies supported by the NIHR in the last year, marking the highest number since records began in England.

The rise in clinical trials within the NHS could be equated with the financial incentives Trusts have in delivering research. Data show that for every commercial of life sciences study delivered within the NHS, Trusts receive an average of £6,658 in revenue, averaging a massive total of £176 million in income in 2015 alone.

“Health research is the key to finding new and innovative cures, treatments and care for patients. Evidence also shows research active organisations consistently deliver better outcomes to all patients they treat, not just those involved in health research trials.

“We aim to ensure research is embedded in all aspects of care delivered in England. We also wish to provide an opportunity for anyone to be involved in a health research study. With nearly three quarters of a million participants in the last year we are moving closer to achieving this,” Sheffield added.



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