Date: 18 May 2017
A busy mum who was willing to swap making her own choice of treatment for an agonising foot injury to help research has urged others to take part in NHS trials.
Louise Arthur, 42, encouraged participation in research as healthcare professionals and scientists around the world mark International Clinical Trials Day on Saturday 20 May to celebrate research.
International Clinical Trials Day is held every 20 May to celebrate the anniversary of the first clinical trial by James Lind in 1747 into the causes of scurvy on board the HMS Salisbury.
And a new NHS and University of Reading unit to expand opportunities for Berkshire people to take part in research will also be launched today.
Mrs Arthur, of Upper Bucklebury, West Berkshire tore her achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscle to the heel bone, while playing badminton in February.
She said: “It was incredibly painful, the guys I was playing with thought the noise of the tendon tearing was the sound of my racket hitting the floor.”
Mrs Arthur was offered the opportunity to participate in research during her NHS treatment. It involved her being randomly allocated a plaster cast or a walking boot for a research trial which is comparing the two.
Although she had a preference for the cast, Mrs Arthur said she was happy to take the chance to be allocated either by the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading so she could support research and was allocated the cast.
“The reason for going for this was that the NHS had been fantastic throughout our lives. I wanted to give something back that could help people in the future.
“I am on the go all the time so it was a really hard decision. But I said ‘let’s go with it and whatever system I am on will be important’.”
The UK Study of Tendo Achilles Rehabilitation is being run by the University of Oxford and involves 20 hospitals in England and at least 330 patients. Participants have regular check-ups and complete three questionnaires about their recovery.
The mum-of-one said: “If anyone can help and look forward in terms of helping other people then I would recommend taking part in research, without any doubt. I have no regrets at all.”
She said the intensive support provided by the study team left her feeling greatly assured about her recovery, which included eight weeks wearing the cast, removed in early April.
“You are talking to a team of people who all know what is going on. The level of service was top notch, it was fantastic.”
Mrs Arthur, a part-time support worker for young adults with special needs, said: “I really warmed to the team and when I came away I missed seeing them. They were so welcoming, thoughtful and considerate and took me under their wing.”
The study is being supported with staff funded by the NIHR Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands, a Department of Health-funded body that works to enable research trials to take place in the NHS.
Mrs Arthur also welcomed the launch of a new NHS and University of Reading unit, The Thames Valley Clinical Trials Unit (TVCTU), on Thursday 18 May to expand opportunities for Berkshire people to take part in research.
The TVCTU is a collaboration between the University of Reading, the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust and the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
It provides dedicated expertise to ensure clinical trials – which have to pass a number of regulatory and safety checks - can take place at the university and NHS trusts.
This includes advising on the design of trials prior to an application for research funding; providing support to ensure trials run smoothly and analysing results.
The TVCTU will enable the university and NHS trusts to undertake additional trials to tackle complex health issues such as child mortality, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and mental health problems in young people.
The team brings together clinicians, research nurses, trial managers, IT/data experts, statisticians and quality assurance professionals.
Emily Moore, Executive Director Thames Valley CTU, said: “I am very excited to be joining this innovative collaboration.
“The involvement of all three partner organisations in providing expert support through the TVCTU provides researchers with a unique opportunity to expand existing areas of expertise into a wide range of clinical settings.
“TVCTU will facilitate an increasing number of clinical trials, meaning that patients in the region will have more opportunity to access new therapies at an earlier stage, and ultimately produce results which will change clinical practice for all patients nationally.”
Both the University and NHS trusts support research through asking patients if they wish to take part in trials and healthy people if they also wish to take part so results can be compared to those with a medical condition.
Patients are also encouraged to ask their GPs and hospital doctors about research opportunities and view trials seeking volunteers at The UK Clinical Trials Gateway at www.ukctg.nihr.ac.uk.
Participating in health research helps develop new treatments, improve the NHS and save lives.
This requires organisations that are involved in research to work closely together to pool expertise. For example, the University of Reading could obtain funding for a study which is then undertaken with patients in an NHS trust.