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225,000 people in the West have taken part in health research in the last 10 years

18 May 2016

In the last 10 years, 225,000 people in the West of England are estimated to have taken part in clinical research supported by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), the research arm of the NHS. These ‘research heroes’ have helped pave the way for new, improved NHS treatments and services.

Clinical research helps the NHS identify the best interventions and treatments for patients, which have the potential to improve the lives of those affected now, and in the future. More volunteers are needed to take part in clinical research if this vital work is to continue.

Dr Steve Falk, Clinical Director of the NIHR’s Clinical Research Network West of England, said:

“Every year, research in our local hospitals, GP surgeries, care homes and in the wider community, contributes to better care in the NHS. This clinical research, supported by the NIHR, would be impossible without the thousands of local people willing to take part. They have all helped improve treatments and services.

“The 10th anniversary of the NIHR and Friday’s International Clinical Trials Day is a fitting point to say a huge `thank you’ to the 225,000 local people who have taken part in clinical research over the last decade. They are our heroes.

“Just in the last year alone, 19,500 people took part in 671 research studies in the West of England. That shows just how committed people are to `doing their bit’ to help improve NHS treatment.”

As well as thanking patients and the public for their invaluable contribution to clinical research, we are also asking more people to get involved.

Each year on International Clinical Trials Day (Friday 20 May), the NIHR ‘Ok to Ask' campaign calls on patients, their families and carers to ask their nurse or doctor about taking part in health research. The NHS Constitution gives everyone the right to information about research they could participate in, as part of their everyday healthcare.

The `Ok to Ask’ campaign is being promoted by local NHS trusts this week in their activities to celebrate International Clinical Trials Day, kicking off on 18 May with the seminar What's research ever done for us? at the University of Gloucestershire. The event, jointly organised with the Gloucestershire health community, presents some of the advances in clinical care that would not have been achieved without studies to find out what provides the best treatment option.

Elsewhere, hospital trusts are showcasing research in their atriums and main entrances and clinical commissioning groups are promoting the key roles they and general practice play in research. Activities in the region include:

  • North Bristol NHS Trust: Exhibition in the Brunel building atrium. Members of the public will be invited to put their name forward to be part of a public research panel
  • Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust: Interactive displays in the main hospital entrance, showcasing research taking place at RUH and the RNHRD sites
  • University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust: Research event taking place in the Bristol Heart Institute atrium, with teams from various specialties showing how research is having an impact on patient care
  • Weston Area Health NHS Trust: Interactive display by main entrance, with mock randomised trial

NIHR has transformed research in the NHS in the decade since it was established as the research arm of the NHS in April 2006. Over five million people have taken part in healthcare research over the last decade with 98 per cent of NHS trusts and 41 per cent of GP practices now actively engaged in clinical research.

To find out more about the OK to Ask campaign, visit

To find out more about clinical research visit, or sign up to the free online course “Improving healthcare through clinical research” at
225,000 people in the West have taken part in health research in the last 10 years
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