Record number of medical research volunteers

Highest number of participants signed up to clinical research studies in England last year, new figures show.

A record number of participants signed up to clinical research studies last year, new figures show

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) said that more than 665,000 participants were recruited to such studies in England in 2016-17 – the highest number of clinical research participants in any given year.

The figure is also a 10% rise on the number recruited in 2015-16 when 605,000 participants were recruited into clinical research.

Over the past five years the NHS research body, which was established by the Department of Health in 2006, has recruited more than 3.1 million participants into clinical research studies.

The NIHR said that in 2016-17, 99% of NHS trusts and 48% of general practices recruited participants into clinical research.

'Fantastic achievements'

Jonathan Sheffield
Jonathan Sheffield: 'We must continue to invest in the opportunities that clinical research presents'
Picture: Nathan Clarke

NIHR Clinical Research Network chief executive Jonathan Sheffield said: 'The increase in the number of clinical research participants last year and the improvements we are seeing in studies delivering to time and target are fantastic achievements that contribute to better health and care outcomes in this country.

'Researchers can be more confident of being able to complete their studies, and more patients will benefit from new and better treatments becoming available.'

He said that 65% of trusts increased their research activity in 2016-17, demonstrating the growing appetite for research.

Clear benefits

'We must continue to invest in the opportunities that clinical research presents, by looking at more innovative ways of delivery and making better use of digital advancements in the health and care sector,' Mr Sheffield added.

Commenting on the figures, health minister Lord O'Shaughnessy said: 'This record increase in participants taking part in research and clinical studies is excellent news.

'The benefits of research are clear – more advanced and effective treatments for NHS patients both now and in the future.

'That's why this government is putting record amounts of funding into medical research, including £1 billion through the NIHR last year alone.'

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