Date: 02 August 2017
More NHS research studies with more people are taking place than ever before with the support of the NIHR Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands (LCRN), new figures show.
In 2016/17, some 47,013 people took part in LCRN-supported studies in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Milton Keynes compared to 44,465 in 2015/16.
The number of studies supported by the LCRN rose from 898 to 967 between the two years.
The number of studies with research companies also rose from 139 in 2015/16 to 149 in 2016/17.
The CRN provides support and staff such as research nurses to enable trials to take place in the health service.
The results show that some of the trusts supported by the CRN rank in the top 10 of trusts in England.
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust ranked second out of hospital trusts for number of studies, third for the number of people who took part in studies – 22,154 people - and third for the biggest increase in studies for hospital trusts.
Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust had the second highest number of studies in England, 60, for NHS trusts which provide mental health care.
The trust also recruited more people – 2,537 participants – than any other mental health authority in England. It also had the second biggest increase in studies.
Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust had the largest increase in the number of people taking part in research, from 751 in 2015/16 to 1,757 in 2016/17.
Among those who have taken part in research is Rabinder Dawett, 57, of Newport Pagnell, who has participated in two diabetes trials since being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes aged 28.
Mr Dawett lost his mother Kanta Devi to a heart attack as a result of complications from the lifelong condition, which causes a person's blood sugar level to become too high.
He said: “When chatting to my GP, I told him that I wished I could have done something more for my mother in supporting her with diabetes.
“He asked me if I was willing to help other people in the same condition by supporting research and I said yes.”
This led to Mr Dawett taking part in the “ASCEND: A Study of Cardiovascular Events iN Diabetes” study at the University of Oxford, from 2007 to 2017.
The study asked one group of participants to take an asprin or placebo (a dummy pill) each day and another group to take one gram capsules containing naturally occurring omega-3 fatty acids ("fish-oils") or a placebo each day. Participants were not told which they were taking and completed questionnaires about their health.
If favourable results emerge, this could lead to a change in practice with widespread use of these treatments for diabetes, and possible prevention of large numbers of heart attacks, strokes and cancers.
Mr Dawett also took part in a study at Milton Keynes University Hospital in 2015 called “Evaluation of FreeStyle Libre Pro for Individuals with Insulin Managed Type 2 Diabetes in Primary and Secondary Care”.
This involved wearing a disposable sensor which was inserted under the skin on the upper arm to record data about glucose levels over 14 days.
This allowed doctors and nurses to download glucose data and create reports using a handheld reader.
Mr Dawett said: “I would say it’s really important to take part in research because it can indirectly help you as an individual and, most importantly, you are making a contribution to research where thousands of other people can benefit.”
For example, he said he found himself eating better and taking his medication to a rigid schedule during the sensor trial to ensure the data he was providing was as useful as possible.
He said: “During that time, my diabetes actually improved. I was quite surprised and the consultant and research nurses were over the moon.”
Prof Belinda Lennox, Clinical Director of the LCRN, said: “These great league table results show that more people than ever before are taking part in research in our region.
“I want to thank all the patients and members of the public that have given up their time for clinical research. It is only thanks to their altruism that we can develop the lifesaving treatments that we need, and improve the services that we offer in the NHS.”
View the league tables by following this link.