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London celebrates great performance in latest NIHR stats

Almost 300,000 participants have taken part in research studies in London over the last year, new figures out today show, including 55,619 in North West London.

Every NHS trust in the capital has delivered research, in common with the rest of England, according to data from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

The NIHR Clinical Research Network helped 1,289,937 participants take part in over 4,600 portfolio studies in England in 2021/22. Of that figure, 28,193 participants took part in commercial studies sponsored by the life sciences industry.

One research participant was Kate Eddleston, who took part in the MePFAC trial at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. The trial, supported by the NIHR, aims to find out whether methylphenidate, a stimulant drug that can improve brain activity, helps people with tiredness caused by advanced cancer.

The mum-of-two, who was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer in 2020, said her level of fatigue before taking part in the trial had impacted heavily on her day-to-day life. She said: "I was really struggling to get up in the morning and stay awake in the evenings because of my cancer treatment. We have two energetic young boys aged three and five.

"My husband, Mike, had to take responsibility for getting them up and off to school every day on his way to work. I felt frustrated and guilty as I couldn't do the things I needed to do as a wife and mum. The tiredness meant I had to reduce my working hours, and I was reluctant to make plans with my friends or visit family in case I needed to stop and rest."

Kate had to have regular blood pressure checks and complete a series of questionnaires as part of her involvement in the MePFAC trial. She continued:
"My cancer treatment has given me a second chance, so I want to live my life to the fullest and enjoy every minute of it. Being able to take part in the MePFAC trial has been an absolute game-changer!

"Within a few weeks, I got my energy back. Having the drug has given me the ability to look after my boys and take the pressure off Mike. I also have the confidence to make plans with friends and family again.

"To improve cancer survival rates and treatments for ourselves and future generations, we need to encourage more volunteers to take part in clinical research. I want to do all I can to raise awareness of cancer research and ultimately help others. The amount of information and support you receive from The Royal Marsden's trials team is amazing. I felt very reassured by the extra contact and monitoring."

"The process of being in the study was eye-opening and lovely. It was efficient, carefully thought through and beautifully managed."

COVID-19 research in particular has been in the spotlight over the past two years. Volunteers came forward in their thousands and are thankful for the vaccines being rolled out so quickly. Tina, 68, from Richmond in London, along with her husband Peter, signed up to a trial at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Her experience has made her a strong advocate for research, and she has a message for anyone else thinking about taking part. "Go for it", she said. "The process of being in the study was eye-opening and lovely. It was efficient, carefully thought through and beautifully managed.

"All the staff were absolutely first class. They looked after us very well."

Read more about the NIHR Annual Statistics.