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Meet the team at the Patient Recruitment Centre: Exeter!

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There are only five NIHR Patient Recruitment Centres in England and Exeter is home to the only one in the South West. But what exactly does that mean?

We caught up with Patient Recruitment Centre Manager, Claire Richardson, who along with the rest of the team will try to help you answer that question!


What is a Patient Recruitment Centre?

Claire explains:

“Put simply, the Patient Recruitment Centre: Exeter is a dedicated facility set up with the capacity to deliver large-scale, late phase, commercial clinical trials. This means that we specialise in delivering studies that have already gone through two phases of safety testing and are now being compared against a standard treatment or placebo for that condition. Late phase trials involve large numbers of participants so we may be recruiting several hundred members of the local population.

“The PRC is a brand new facility following a refurbishment of space within the Child Health Building at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital in Wonford. We have our own dedicated entrance and purpose built clinical rooms, data processing centre and staff offices as well as our own pharmacy!”

Stephanie Estcourt is the Lead Clinical Research Nurse. She was part of the successful bid team that secured the funding for the PRC: Exeter from NIHR:

“We were very keen to win the bid to become an NIHR PRC because we can see the value of this for our patient population. Attracting commercial research to the South West, and specifically Exeter, means that we can increase the opportunities for our local patients to have access to cutting-edge, novel therapies they wouldn’t normally get access to.”

“The patient experience is of paramount importance to every member of the PRC: Exeter team and I think this shows through at every turn. Following a recent survey of research participants in a COVID-19 vaccine trial run at the PRC: Exeter we were thrilled to see that 96% of our first-time time participants would take part in further research.”


Who decides if I can participate in research?

Dan Razey, Health Care Practitioner at the Patient Recruitment Centre: Exeter says:

“It’s important to remember that it’s you, the participant, that is in control the whole time. You have to fully understand what you are consenting to and be happy to participate. The PRC: Exeter team are here to ensure you have all of the information, time and support you need, at every step of the way, to make the decision that is right for you.”

This sentiment is supported by participant research, which showed that  100% of participant respondents agreed that the research staff at the centre always treated them with respect and courtesy.

The process from registering interest to participating in a trial can sometimes be a lengthy one. It’s important that the selection process is rigorous to ensure safety. Throughout every stage the dedicated staff at the PRC: Exeter are here to guide and support.


How do clinical trials advance our clinical practice and ability to treat patients?

Each trial asks a ‘research question’ – the answer to this question informs what changes or innovations are adopted for widespread clinical use.

Gathering the high-quality data that will answer the research question being posed can take several different forms. For example, participants might be asked to keep a symptom diary or complete a questionnaire when they attend an appointment.

Depending on the study, participants may need to have certain observations recorded such as blood pressure or pulse. All of these data points need to be accurately captured and reported back to the sponsor in a way that means they can answer the research question. It is the statistical analysis of all the data, collected from all participants in all locations, that will ultimately prove or disprove whether a treatment pathway is successful.

Eloise Chaplin is the Clinical Research Data Administrator:

“It’s vital we capture and record accurate data that enables the study sponsor to perform robust analysis to inform trial results. High quality, reliable data that answers the research question is fundamental to the success of the clinical research study. “


If I am not eligible for a study I was interested in does that mean I won’t ever be able to participate in clinical research?

Absolutely not! Every study is different and that is why we need such a talented, varied team. If you are interested in participating in research then please get in touch with us.

Do your own research too and find out which studies are currently recruiting in your area. Do be careful to check the source of your information, and try to find as many sources as possible so you have a wide understanding of clinical research and differing opinions on the topic.

Joanne Jones, Clinical Research Nurse, says:

“I love being involved in clinical research as I am part of a team that can help change the future of patient care. Everyone can be involved in research in some way so please reach out to us if you are interested in being part of research.”

Emma Chamberlain is the Administrator and Receptionist at the PRC:

“As I’m the first person most people are likely to see when they come to the PRC, perhaps it’s appropriate I should have the last word here! Whether you are interested in participating in research, a clinician wondering about how to get involved in research, or a seasoned Principal Investigator, I can promise you our whole team is ready to welcome you!”

Discover more local research news:
All News Stories from PRC: Exeter
All News Stories from the South West Peninsula region

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Patient Recruitment Centre: Exeter
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