Clinical research is on the rise in the NHS, and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is helping to spearhead the trend highlighted by new figures in a league table published today.
Clinical research is a vital part of the work of the NHS, it is the way that doctors gather evidence about “what works” so that treatments for patients can be improved.
In addition, there is 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.
The league table is published by the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network, the research delivery arm of the NHS. It shows the number of NIHR studies undertaken by each NHS Trust from April 2014 to March 2015, and the number of patients who volunteered to take part in clinical research.
Almost half of the NHS Trusts across the country increased the number of clinical research studies undertaken in their Trust last year, contributing to the drive for better treatments for all NHS patients.
One of these trusts was Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust, which increased its number of NIHR studies from 380 in 2013/14 to 411 studies in 2014/15, representing an overall increase of 8 per cent.
Prof Keith Channon, director of Research and Development at the Trust and Director of the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), said: “I am delighted with our continued increase in clinical research.
“At OUH, working with our partners through the NIHR BRC, we have improved both the scale and effectiveness of clinical research studies, achieving nationally-leading performance to initiate our clinical trials within the 70 days benchmark. More of our patients are now benefitting from participation in research, and we are minimising the time taken to deliver the results of research, for clinical benefit.”
Lucy Norman, 43, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2010 and enrolled onto the Parkinson’s Monument Discovery study with OUH in 2011. This project is one of the largest studies of people living with Parkinson’s anywhere in the world.
Lucy, who lives in Banbury, Oxfordshire, said: “I am nearly five years into my diagnosis and my Parkinson’s, albeit mild, is progressing. At 43 this can be petrifying but being part of the Discovery Study takes away so much of the anxiety I feel when I think about what my future may hold.
“It also gives Angus, my husband, a much better understanding of me and my Parkinson’s. Taking part in the study has taken about 15 hours of my time over the last four years. It’s a ridiculously small price to pay for playing such an important role in research that could predict the onset of Parkinson’s, improve drug treatments or find that cure.”
Lucy is one of 539 participants enrolled onto the study by OUH since recruitment began in 2010. Over 1,500 people are now taking part across all NHS sites in the Thames Valley region.
Oxford University researchers funded by the charity Parkinson’s UK are analysing the data collected to understand the earliest signs of the condition. Diagnosing Parkinson’s before the movement symptoms appear, combined with more effective treatments that can slow or stop the condition’s progress, will be crucial steps towards a cure.
Dr Arthur Roach, Parkinson’s UK Director of Research, said: “Oxford is one of a few special places where all of the different strands of Parkinson’s research are woven together. Researchers in the lab are working side by side with doctors who see Parkinson’s every day in the clinic. We believe it is the meeting of minds in this exciting environment that’s most likely to produce the breakthrough we need to find a cure.”
Jonathan Sheffield, Chief Executive Officer of the NIHR Clinical Research Network, said: “It’s great to see a real appetite for research in Oxfordshire. I would like to thank all the patients and carers who have taken part in research, and thereby made a contribution to improving NHS treatments for everyone.
“I would also like to congratulate Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for increasing their number of studies. We know that research is something that patients really value and this Trust is creating opportunities for patients to get involved.”