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International Clinical Trials Day: Shaping the future of healthcare

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20th May is International Clinical Trials Day, and we are celebrating the thousands of people who shape the future of healthcare by taking part in and supporting research studies and trials across the UK.

Last year, over 73,000 people from across Kent, Surrey and Sussex volunteered to participate in 545 health and care studies supported by the NIHR. These made a vital contribution to our knowledge and understanding of diseases and conditions like diabetes, mental health, dementia and cancer.

Ex-firefighter Martin Green, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018 and treated at the Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust in Guildford, said that getting involved in a research study has given him a new lease of life:

“My prostate cancer was very advanced, and I talked to my consultant about alternatives to chemotherapy and radiotherapy,” he said. “We talked about the possibility of joining a research trial looking at a new cancer medication.

“Signing up involved a lot of reading, and some serious considerations, but I felt the potential benefits were clear. It was a blind trial, where half the participants were taking a drug called Olaparib, and the other half were taking a placebo,” he said. “Of course, I had no idea which arm of the study I was on. But what became clear very quickly was that my cancer slowed right down and today, I feel fantastic, and am physically fit enough to exercise.

“I was very grateful to have this opportunity for myself and my family, but it was also incredible to feel that what I was doing would hopefully go on to improve treatments for others, long into the future. People that I will never meet. That was a wonderful feeling.”

Participants like Martin are now helping the NIHR to encourage even more people to be part of research.

Dr Joanne Zamani, Chief Operating Officer, NIHR Clinical Research Network Kent, Surrey and Sussex said: “International Clinical Trials Day is an excellent opportunity for us to highlight the incredible work that goes on in hospitals and the community every single day.

“So many of our participants, like Martin, point out that they see benefits beyond their own health. They are doing vital work, helping us shape the future of healthcare.

“It is nice to have this opportunity to thank our incredible participants and volunteers, without whom health and care research would be almost impossible.”

Anyone who would like to take part in a research study, either as a patient or a healthy volunteer, should ask their doctor, nurse, midwife or other healthcare professional about whether there is a trial or study they can take part in. Alternatively, they can look on to find out what research is happening near them and how to get involved.