Date: 18 July 2018
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has risen to the top of a table for the most patients recruited to take part in research studies.
The trust recruited 20,937 participants to studies supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in 2017/18, putting it first out of all NHS hospital trusts in England.
The trust recruited to 517 NIHR-supported studies, putting it third on the table for the number of studies.
The trust manages the John Radcliffe Hospital, Churchill Hospital and Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford and Banbury’s Horton General Hospital.
Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust recruited 2,242 participants to 60 studies, putting it third for the number of studies and fifth for the number of participants, out of all mental health trusts in England.
The trust provides physical, mental health and social care in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Swindon, Wiltshire, Bath and North East Somerset at sites including Oxford’s Warneford Hospital.
The figures also show that 3,602 participants took part in 51 research studies in Oxfordshire’s GP practices, putting the county first for the number of studies and fourth for participants recruited in England.
The NHS supports research by asking patients and healthy volunteers if they wish to take part in trials to enable participants to access new treatment and care options, with the overall aim of improving the treatment and care provided by the NHS.
Professor Keith Channon, Director of Research and Development for Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The almost 21,000 patients taking part in studies at our hospitals is a fantastic achievement. By partnering with the University of Oxford, we have world leading researchers and clinical care and research happen hand-in-hand on a day-to-day basis.
“We also have the operational infrastructure provided by the NIHR that allows us to have members of research staff to make sure patients have the opportunity to participate in clinical research studies.”
Oxford’s Gretchen Meddaugh (pictured), 45, took part in an NHS research study into tuberculosis (TB) in August 2017 at the Churchill Hospital’s Centre for Clinical Vaccinology and Tropical Medicine (CCVTM).
The TB041 study is looking into whether giving a tuberculosis (TB) vaccination through an inhaler is more effective than through injection, which is standard practice.
If the inhaler proves more effective, this could lead to other TB vaccinations being given through an inhaler. The study is open to healthy adults who have not been vaccinated against TB.
Ms Meddaugh, who worked for the Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford for three years, said: “I found out about the study because I used to work in vaccine research, so I was well aware of the trials taking place through the university.
“This particular trial really interested me because I had never had the BCG vaccine, whereas a lot of adults in the UK have, so I thought I could be useful to them.”
Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection spread through inhaling droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person. It is a serious condition, but it can be cured if it's treated with the right antibiotics.
The vaccine BCG works well against TB in childhood, but not in adulthood, which leads to the majority of TB deaths. The BCG vaccine is made from a weakened strain of TB bacteria which triggers the immune system to protect against the disease.
The bacteria that causes TB infects people through being breathed into the lungs, therefore inhaling the vaccine may combat the TB infection more effectively than through an injection.
Participants on the study are randomly allocated to receive the vaccine through either an inhaler or injection and given a lung examination after 14 days, to compare the two.
Ms Meddaugh said: “I refused to have the flu shot in 2009 because I didn’t trust the vaccines and was worried about what would happen, but I was so naïve about the care and research that happens before it is released to the public. Working and taking part in vaccine research has changed my mind about how useful and powerful they are.
“Speaking as someone who used to believe vaccines were given out too easily and without enough testing, and having seen just how much oversight goes into developing vaccines, I have changed my mind about just how much good they can do.”
Ms Meddaugh, now a research administrator for the University of Oxford, said: “Taking part was really exciting and unusual. I was told to wear a huge hood, like a helmet for going into outer space, and a tube went into my hood for me to breathe through for five minutes.
“Tuberculosis kills so many people worldwide, so I thought this is a very important trial, and I’d be happy to help find a better vaccine.”
The study is led by the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute and funded by the Wellcome Trust and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Professor John Geddes, Director of Research and Development at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are fully committed to working with the clinical services to expand the opportunities for participation in research to all our patients.
“The complex problems of mental disorders and dementia deserve the same research excellence as in other areas of health care. Patient participation in research continues to be one of the best ways to drive up quality, promote innovation and ensure that the research we conduct is as useful as it can be.”
Prof Belinda Lennox, Clinical Director, NIHR Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands, said: “The Thames Valley is leading the way in delivering life saving research in the NHS. These league table results show the huge range of research studies that are being undertaken across our region in GP practices and in hospitals across our region.
“Over 40,000 people have taken part in NHS research in the Thames Valley over the last year, all of them helping to increase our understanding of illness and develop the treatments of the future. As the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday, public participation in research is helping the health service develop and strengthen for the future.”
The NIHR Research Activity League Table data, which includes how much clinical research is happening, where, in what types of trusts, and involving how many patients, can be found on the NIHR website at https://www.nihr.ac.uk/research-and-impact/nhs-research-performance/league-tables/.