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More studies than ever before in the West of England

Date: 25 October 2016




Local NHS Trusts and GPs took part in more clinical studies last year than ever before, participating in a combined total of 1065 trials in the West of England, across the full range of health and care issues, contributing to the drive for better treatments for all NHS patients.


The 2015/16 NHS Research Activity League Table, published today by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), shows all local NHS Trusts are delivering clinical research, as set out in the NHS Constitution. The League Table provides a picture of how much clinical research is happening, where, in what types of trusts and settings, and involving how many patients.


The studies typically compare new with existing treatments, look at screening or prevention programmes, consider the causes and patterns of disease and follow the health and wellbeing of larger number of people over a period of time.


In primary care, 60 per cent of general practices in the West of England recruited people to NIHR research studies, placing the West in the top two regions in England for GP research involvement. The average for England is 42 per cent of general practices recruiting to NIHR studies.


And for commercial studies, where GPs recruit patients to trials run by pharmaceutical and other healthcare companies, the West of England featured strongly, with GPs in Wiltshire working on 19 studies, the joint highest level in country. Collaboration with industry is vital to enable the NHS to deliver first class clinical research, speeding up the development and availability of new treatments, therapies and diagnostics.


Patients, carers, and the public are essential to clinical studies and without them this research could not happen. Last year, 20,500 people took part in clinical studies in the West of England.


Dr Steve Falk, Clinical Director of the West of England NIHR Clinical Research Network, said: “Evidence clearly shows research active trusts have better patient outcomes, and with more than 20,000 people across the West participating in research in the NHS in last year, the outlook is very encouraging.


The league table results are a great achievement for all involved, and highlight the growing commitment to research from the NHS and patients.”  


One person to see first-hand the value of the clinical trial she took part in is Pat Eagle, from Slimbridge, Gloucestershire. Pat took part in the long term START trial which compared shorter and longer radiotherapy schedules for women who had had breast cancer surgery.


“The trial I was in has changed the way women like me are given radiotherapy, so they now receive it over a shorter period of time, which is better for patients and the NHS. I didn’t hesitate when I had the chance to take part in a trial. We can never make advances in healthcare if we don’t have trials.


“Taking part in research helps others but it also helps you. I was incredibly well looked after and learned so much about my condition and my treatment,” said Pat.


The high level of GP engagement in research was welcomed by Alastair Hay, Professor of Primary Care at the University of Bristol, who has led various studies, including those looking at the appropriate use of antibiotics in primary care.

Professor Hay said: “I feel privileged to work with the patients, GPs and primary care nurses of the West of England who have been willing to support our studies, especially given all the other pressures of the NHS at this time. I believe that research is one of the most important ways of improving the quality of life of our patients - and also our colleagues.”

Commenting on the league table results, Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Health said:


“The support and infrastructure provided by the National Institute for Health Research has helped increase year on year the number of research opportunities offered within the NHS. Commercial partnerships supported by the Clinical Research Network continue to play a vital role in bringing world-class research studies to the UK, benefiting our health service and ensuring new treatments are available to patients as quickly as possible.”




Notes to Editors:

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. The NIHR is the research arm of the NHS. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. For further information, visit the NIHR website (


The NIHR League Table can be accessed from the NIHR website.


In 2015/16, NHS Trusts and GPs in the West of England took part in a combined total of 1065 clinical studies, eight more than the year before and 34 more than in 2013/14. In this data collection, two trusts recruiting to the same study count as two studies. Among a total of 294 local general practices, 175 recruited to studies (60 per cent).


The 1065 studies recruited 20,564 patients to the end of March 2016. This represents a fall of 6800 on the previous year due to two main factors: the closure of three very high recruiting studies (two meningococcal and one sexual health study), plus the growing proportion of more complex, lower recruiting studies.


For further information about Pat Eagle and the START trial she took part in, see


For further information contact:


Laurence Knight

Communications Manager

CRN West of England

Tel: 0750 2542643



  • Summary:
    Local NHS Trusts and GPs took part in more clinical studies last year than ever before, participating in a combined total of 1065 trials in the West of England, across the full range of health and care issues, contributing to the drive for better treatments for all NHS patients.
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