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Record number of participants for LCRN-supported studies

More participants than ever volunteered for health research studies supported by the NIHR Thames Valley and South Midlands Clinical Research Network last year, new figures show.

A total 79,066 participants took part in NIHR-supported studies in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and Oxfordshire.

It is the most annual participants recorded for participation in LCRN-supported studies in hospitals and the community.

The figures include:

  • Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust - 38 studies, 1,723 participants
  • Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust - 58 studies, 5,337 participants
  • Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust - 57 studies, 4,564 participants
  • Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust - 60 studies, 2,357 participants
  • Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - 487 studies, 17,527 participants
  • Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust - 90 studies, 6,263 participants
  • 41,295 participants in studies in non-hospital settings, such as at GP surgeries and studies delivered in peoples’ homes

Among the studies delivered in the 12 month period were:

  • The PANORAMIC study into the effectiveness of antiviral drugs to treat COVID-19 in the community 
  • The EVAREST study investigating whether analysing a patient’s blood can improve the accuracy of a stress echocardiogram, which involves ultrasound of the heart during cardiac stress, to identify coronary artery disease
  • The OPTIMAS trial comparing the effectiveness of early treatment with anticoagulant drugs to prevent further strokes and blood clots for acute ischaemic stroke and atrial fibrillation with giving the drugs in standard time
  • The DMech study into understanding the mechanisms underlying type 1 diabetes by analysing DNA samples in patients and healthy volunteers

Among those taking part in research is Oxford’s Sally Bromley, 73, who has been participating in the University of Oxford’s Targeting pathways to Parkinson’s study since it opened in 2010 after she was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease in 2008.

She said: “I had long been aware I had a shaking hand but it didn’t bother me so I didn’t worry about it until my daughter took me to see the doctor. I burst into tears when I was told. You think you’re ready for it but you’re never really ready for a horrid diagnosis.

“My right foot drags a bit and I don’t swing my arm when I walk. I find it very difficult to turn over in bed and I have anxiety and very vivid dreams. I can’t play the piano anymore because I’ve lost the dexterity in my hands and I’ve lost my singing voice. I studied music at college so it’s really quite a loss.”

The study involves visits to the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford every 18 months for tests and measurements, including blood tests, MRI scans, skin biopsies, walking examinations and memory tests to help researchers better understand how Parkinson’s develops.

Sally, a retired school teacher from Summertown, said: “When I heard that they could do this research, I just said ‘of course I’ll do it’ because I was just ecstatic. I was mesmerised by the research and the researcher because she was just so interesting.

“It was fascinating because it tells you a little bit about the condition you didn’t necessarily know. I think it’s really interesting and exciting to see these young people investigating Parkinson’s Disease so deeply. It’s really stimulating and heart-warming.”

Sally’s husband Jonathon also takes part in the study so findings from Parkinson’s patients can be compared to people who do not have the disease.

Sally said: “I think it’s a great help to know a bit more about your condition and what the tests are, how much time they involve, what they are seeking and where it fits in with the whole picture.”

Prof Manu Vatish, Clinical Director of the NIHR Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands, said:  “Taking part in health research improves treatments, the NHS and saves lives. It is excellent to see the engagement that our community has with clinical research and we hope more will be encouraged to take part.”

Patients are also encouraged to ask their doctor or health professional about research opportunities and view trials seeking volunteers at