Nicola Whitehill Patient Research Ambassador

Record number of patients have access to new treatments

Date: 18 July 2018

Nicola Whitehill, aged 45, a barrister (non-practising), has taken part in three pharmaceutically-led clinical studies, since being diagnosed with rare Raynaud’s disease and Scleroderma - a chronic autoimmune disease. Nicola, who was initially told she had 15 months to live in 1997 due to the aggressive nature of the disease said: “Before I started taking part in clinical trials, having been told the disease I had was likely to kill me and had no cure - my situation was rather like an abyss - a black tunnel without any light at the end of it.

According to new figures from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), a record number of patients have taken part in research studies sponsored by the life sciences industry across the country – and Barts Health NHS Trust has topped the table for supporting the most life sciences studies over the year.

The NIHR’s annual research figures highlight the top performing NHS trusts nationally, and place trusts within the Clinical Research Network North Thames (CRN North Thames) area in some key positions. This year’s figures, which cover the twelve month period between April 2017 to March 2018, suggest that health research is thriving across the CRN North Thames region and that NHS trusts across the area continue to be seen as a world leading place to deliver high quality clinical trials.

For the second year in a row, Barts Health NHS Trust was top of the table for research activity in commercial studies, supporting 158 industry sponsored studies in 2017/18, up from 149 in 2016/17

NHS trusts supported by NIHR CRN North Thames also featured in the top 10 league table for the most healthcare studies nationally. Barts Health NHS Trust came in 6th position with 429 studies, up 3% on last year and University College London NHS Trust in 7th position with 427 studies up 1% on last year.

Barts Health NHS Trust also notably saw an increase of 5% in the number of participants that have taken part in clinical research studies, coming in 7th place nationally in the top 10 league table for research participants - with 16,825 participants.

Nicola says, “although I was naturally apprehensive about participating in a clinical trial at first, it also provided a glimmer of hope in providing access to new treatments which potentially could improve my condition. I was also reassured by the excellent medical experts working on the trial and the rigorous procedures that new treatments go through before they are available to trial on the NHS.”

“I’d recommend taking part in a clinical trial to any patient if they  have the opportunity. I am living proof that for best patient care and outlook, treatment at an expert specialist, research centre is crucial.”

Watch the full interview with Nicola here.

  • Summary:
    New figures from the NIHR show a record number of patients have taken part in research studies sponsored by the life sciences industry across the country – and Barts Health NHS Trust has topped the table for supporting the most life sciences studies over the year.
  • Include on homepage (one at a time):
  • Areas of the site this news is applicable to:
    • Industry
    • Research
  • LCRN:
    North Thames
  • Year of publication:
    2018
  • Specialty:
    Very rare diseases
  • News filter:
    NIHR in your area


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