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More than 30,000 took part in health and care research in the South West last year as clinicians urge more people to help shape the future by taking part in research that could one day help the NHS save lives.

ICTD 2023

More than 30,000 people took part in health and care research across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset last year – with the number of studies being delivered up by 50% on 2020/21 to 586.

The number of participants getting involved in health and care research across the region has increased by 30% in the last couple of years from 24,310 participants taking part in 2019/20, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, to 30,094 participants getting involved in research studies last year.

To mark International Clinical Trials Day taking place today (Saturday 20th May) the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has launched its ‘Shape the Future’ campaign calling on people to help shape the future by taking part in research that could one day help the NHS save lives.

Launched to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the NHS, the ‘Shape the Future’ campaign is calling on the public to take part in research and sign up to clinical trials through its Be Part Of Research service, to help find the next breakthrough or innovation that will support the NHS to provide even better care.

This service makes it easy for people – the public and health and care professionals alike – to find and take part in health and care research happening locally and nationally across the UK. It has introduced a new volunteer registry to make it even easier for everyone to be part of improving health treatments and care.

You can support the NIHR Shape the Future campaign by signing up to its Be Part of Research service online or via the NHS App. You will then receive information on studies that match your interests.

Volunteers are still needed for studies into all conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, mental health and dementia to support quality of care improvements. The more people who take part in research, the greater the chance to make a difference to identifying effective treatments and improvements in the way health and care is delivered.

Dr Pauline McGlone, Deputy Chief Operating Officer at the Clinical Research Network South West Peninsula, said: “Participation in research is vital to supporting the current and future health and care treatments and ways in which we work.  The effective treatments that we use on a day to day basis are based on research that many of you have supported.  I want to thank all our participants across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset.  There is an opportunity for more people to support research and it is important that we widen this opportunity to our population across our region. I would therefore encourage you to consider joining the Be Part of Research registry that will help you to be more informed about the opportunities.”

The NIHR Shape the Future campaign lasts until the end of 2023. The NIHR will look back at improvements in patient care and pioneering techniques, and look ahead to the difference research can continue to make in the future.

Professor Michael Gibbons, Clinical Director for the NIHR Clinical Research Network South West Peninsula, said: “On International Clinical Trials day I’d like to personally thank all the patients and public from Cornwall, Devon and Somerset who have taken part in, and supported research in our region.  I hope you found the experience valuable, we certainly are hugely grateful for your support.  I’d like to ask you to kindly consider joining the Be Part of Research Registry.  This will be invaluable for our population in the future.”

The efforts of research teams at Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Devon Partnership NHS Trust, Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, Torbay & South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Livewell Southwest, care homes, hospices, schools, local authorities, dental practices and numerous GP practices across the region have enabled world-leading research into more than 30 disease areas including cancer, diabetes, mental health and heart disease. Life-changing, cost-saving and treatment discoveries have been made as a result of the contributions the teams across the region -and the participants involved in the studies - have made.

Professor Gibbons added: “I’d like to thank all the staff working in research throughout Cornwall, Devon and Somerset for their exemplary support of research in our region.  Our performance has been excellent.  I am hugely grateful.  Please can I ask you to spread the message about joining the Be Part of Research Registry and share it widely - with friends, family, colleagues, everyone!”