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A remarkable year for research participation in the West Midlands - up by 52%

Research in the West Midlands continues to thrive with the number of clinical trials that took place in the region  increasing by 52% in 2021/22 on the previous year.

Data published by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network this month show that research teams based at NHS and social care organisations across the region enrolled more than 106,000 participants to 805 NIHR-funded and supported clinical research trials in 2021/22, up from 528 the previous year (2020/21).

Professor Matthew Brookes, Clinical Director at NIHR CRN West Midlands, said: "These numbers are great for participants in the NHS and in wider settings who are helping to shape the treatments of tomorrow, and for the staff, who have had such a heavy workload, particularly during COVID-19.

"We thank them all  for everything they put into research last year. They are helping to change people’s lives - today and for future generations."

Professor David Loughton CBE, Chief Executive of The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, which hosts the Network, added: "The striking accomplishments of the CRN in the region are testament to the hard work and commitment of the excellent staff, and the willingness of participants to give up their time to help others. The importance of research cannot be underestimated; it can be absolutely life-changing."

Along with people taking part in vital research at NHS hospitals in the region, GPs have continued to play a huge role in offering research opportunities to patients and the public at home. 41% of GP Practices across all parts of the region delivered NIHR research over last year, helping to find new treatments and ways to care for patients. Read a GP Case Study for more about their contribution

1,310 participants were also given the opportunity  to take part in commercial studies sponsored by the life sciences industry (contributing to the total of 28,193 nationally).  The number of commercial studies recruited to in the region went up by 45% (94 to 136).

As effective treatments and vaccines have helped to address the prevalence of COVID-19, the NIHR has worked with teams in the NHS and social care to fund and support the managed recovery of research. This has resulted in opportunities for people to take part in wider clinical research being available at 100% of all NHS Trusts in England.

Leading the world with COVID-19 research

In 2021/22, the NIHR Clinical Research Network continued to play a vital role in delivering COVID-19 research.

Throughout the year, the CRN WM helped 52,078 participants across the region take part in a total of 56  COVID-19 studies.

These included pivotal vaccine trials, and innovative studies investigating COVID-19 treatments in  both community and hospital settings.  The region had a total of 1,233 recruits across seven  Covid therapeutic studies and also recruited to seven vaccine studies, totalling 814 recruits.

The NIHR CRN has also played a key role in the delivery of the NHS COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry within this time period. In June 2021, the registry reached its target of 500,000 sign ups, which have helped support recruitment to several vaccine studies. Over 38,000 of these are in the West Midlands.

Participants experience of taking part in research

Clinical research could not take place without the hundreds of thousands of people who give their time and effort to take part. Ensuring that these participants have a good experience of taking part and feel valued for their contribution is of paramount importance.

In 2021/22, a total of 1,523 West Midlands research participants completed the NIHR CRN’s Participant Research Experience Survey exceeding the target of 1,305. Their responses are helping us learn what we can improve for the future.

Notes to Editors:

Nationally, the NIHR CRN annual statistics show that 1,289,937 people took part in 4,623 Portfolio studies in England in 2021/22.  Read more on our annual statistics page on the main NIHR website.

The NIHR is the nation’s largest funder of clinical research and is the research partner of the NHS and social care, with NIHR CRN staff embedded in organisations across the country.