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Over 80,000 people take part in research studies in Greater Manchester

More than 80,000 people across Greater Manchester took part in health and care research studies over the last year, according to new statistics released by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

Following an incredibly busy year for NIHR research in 2020/21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the public continued to support vital research in phenomenal numbers between April 2021 and March 2022. 

Over this period, 81,737 people participated across 886 NIHR-supported research studies in the region, which covers Greater Manchester, East Cheshire and East Lancashire. 

Almost 4,000 of those participants took part in commercial studies sponsored by the life sciences industry.

More than 30,000 of the participants were involved in studies looking at COVID-19, ranging from vaccine booster trials, to research into treatments for patients in the community with milder symptoms, and research into long COVID. 

Every NHS trust in the region delivered research in 2021/22, in common with the rest of England, ensuring residents across all communities are having opportunities to be part of research. 

As part of the same commitment to make participation in research even more accessible,the amount of studies recruiting participants in community and non-NHS settings also continues to grow. 

Sajid Aziz, 38, of Old Trafford, Manchester, was among the people who took part in a study when the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) Greater Manchester team visited his local mosque.  

Sajid provided a saliva sample to contribute towards a study helping researchers better understand the genetics behind the health conditions prevalent in South Asian communities, such as heart disease and diabetes.  

He said: “They did a little presentation to show what's involved and what's going to happen and there is a lot of privacy involved, with this day and age.  

“It was just a saliva sample and [the research team] sent that off and I filled a couple of details in. And hopefully they can build up a lot of portfolios to try and help people in the future. Very, very simple process. I would highly recommend it. It will benefit everyone.”

Another person to take part in research was Bernadette McKnight, 52, of Gatley, Greater Manchester, who has been involved in the largest study of anxiety and depression ever undertaken. 

The study aims to help find effective treatments and improve the lives of people experiencing depression and anxiety, the most common mental health disorders worldwide. 

Bernadette took part after speaking with the NIHR CRN Greater Manchester team at a community mental health event in Tameside. She said: “I’m really happy to support research and, just as I do when I donate blood, I put it on my Facebook page and tell people ‘if you can do it, do it, because it can make a difference’. It’s the same with this study.

“If you can spit in the pot and hand over that sample, it could make a world of difference and it just takes five minutes.”

Dr William van’t Hoff, Chief Executive of the NIHR Clinical Research Network said: 

“Against the backdrop of the pandemic and as we support the recovery of the UK research portfolio, our roles and achievements for NIHR remain vital. I want to offer a huge thank you to everyone who’s been involved in the incredible successes over the last year. By taking part, shaping or delivering this research you have helped develop the evidence and treatments that will benefit us all.

“This year we look forward to further building on these successes - playing our role contributing to the system-wide Research Reset programme, increasing our research in primary care and community settings, and further ensuring our research meets the needs of all our communities, across the country, so we can improve health, care and quality of life for everyone.”