25.10.2016

Newcastle Hospitals retains its top Ranking in National NIHR Clinical Research Activity League Table

The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is the country’s top performing trust for volume of clinical research for five years running.

The 2015/16 NIHR Research Activity League Table is published today by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN). The league table highlights the extent of NHS research happening in England, and the number of participants being recruited into studies.

This year’s results show all NHS Trusts in England are delivering clinical research, providing thousands more patients with access to better treatments and care.

 

Over half (60%) of NHS Trusts and 53% of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across the  country increased the number of clinical research studies undertaken in their trust last year, contributing to the drive for better treatments for all NHS patients.

The Newcastle Hospitals continues to retain its place as one of the top performing trusts in England. The league table shows that the Trust delivered 514 clinical research studies during the last year, which is a rise of 28 from the previous year’s 486 studies.

The league table also shows that 12,122 patients at The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust took part in clinical research.

Sir Leonard Fenwick, Chief Executive said: “We’re thrilled to be leading the way nationally in clinical research once again. As a Trust, we are committed to delivering the best possible care to patients by investing in research which can help improve the lives of people not just regionally, but also nationally and internationally.

“If it wasn’t for the continued hard work and dedication from our team of medical professionals we wouldn’t be able to achieve all that we do in the clinical research field. Special recognition also has to go to all of the patients across the region who give their time to enable us to carry out this important research. Without them, none of this would be possible.”

In 2015/16, the total number of recruiting studies in NHS Trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups within the North East and North Cumbria was 1,497 and the total number of patients recruited was 33,122

Nationally, 605,000 people across England took part in research in the NHS in the last year. This included 14-year-old Pascal Johnston, from Penshaw, Sunderland, who has Duchene Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) and is currently taking part in a study being delivered by The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University. The trial is one of a number of studies researching Muscular Dystrophy with the aim to delay the onset of symptoms and extend the life span of patients.

Pascal’s mum, Linda, said: “We had to weigh up the pros and cons and to know that it was as safe as safe can be. We were going into the unknown, along with the doctors, and Pascal had to come first.

“So for my part as Pascal’s mam it gives me hope. It’s not a cure but it’s hope! I discussed with Pascal that it may well be that at the end of the trial, this particular trial anyway, that they might not achieve what they hope to achieve, however, it won’t be a disaster because it will advise and steer them in other directions and to try other things.”

Pascal added: “I find it interesting and nice to meet other people who are on this trial and the doctors are really nice as well.”

Professor Stephen Robson, Clinical Director at NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria, said: “It’s fantastic to see all the region’s trusts and CCG’s being research active this year. There are lots of opportunities available to patients across the North East and North Cumbria who are keen to take part in research. We would encourage anyone who has an interest to speak to their GP or hospital doctor.”

This year’s league table sees the addition of commercial research activity. 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. The data shows that a record number of commercial contract research studies have been delivered by NHS trusts in England over the last five years.

Primary care research is also highlighted as part of the report, listing the extent of research activity happening in communities across the country. Last year over 42% of English GP practices recruited people to NIHR research studies.

Chief Executive Officer of the NIHR CRN, Dr Jonathan Sheffield said: “This year’s NIHR league table shows every NHS trust in England is now research active, and that over Trusts 60% (53% for CCGs) increased their research activity last year. Evidence clearly shows research active trusts have better patient outcomes, with 605,000 people across England 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.” 

Commenting on the league table results, Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser 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 key 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.”

The NIHR League Table can be accessed from the NIHR website: www.nihr.ac.uk/nihrleaguetable

Case Study - Pascal Johnston

Pascal Johnston, aged 14 years old, was diagnosed with Duchene Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) at the age of four. Just over a year ago, Pascal and his family were approached to take part in a clinical trial, which is being delivered by The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University. The trial aims to delay the onset of symptoms and ultimately, extend the lifespan of people with the condition.

DMD is a severe form of muscular dystrophy which is prevalent in boys. It is inherited and caused by a faulty gene, Dystrophin. Due to lack of Dystrophin muscles become weaker and weaker over time as the boys lose muscle cells. Without any treatment boys with DMD would tend to lose the ability to walk around the ages 8 to 10.

The progressive disease affects all muscles of the body so eventually the muscles of the heart and lungs will begin to fail. Without clinical intervention boys would live typically into their late teens or early twenties.

Pascal, his mother Linda and brother Lawrence, who live in Sunderland, explain why they decided to take part in the clinical trial and how the advancements in trials and treatments offer hope for the future.

Linda said: “We were approached by the consultant from the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI), Dr Michela Guglieri, who deals with DMD patients, and she explained a bit about what the trial was hoping to achieve and that Pascal would be able to take part.

“Michela sent both me and Pascal information about the study. The information was really clear and was written in such a way that I and Pascal could understand what was involved.”

Pascal added: “Yes it was all very clear and easy to understand from the beginning.”

The family took some time to digest all the information provided to them and had a further meeting with the registrar, Alex Murphy, where they were able to ask questions. It was clear to them that Pascal was the important person in the decision and, as a family, they decided taking part was the right thing to do.

Linda continued: “Pascal has a diagnosis of DMD and is aware that it is life-limiting, however, you always have hope as a mam. I was told when he was four that he probably wouldn’t reach 14 years old.

“After the diagnosis we spoke to consultants at the Centre for Life who were more in the know about DMD, and were told that medical science is moving fast and that there are a lot of exciting things coming up.

“They didn’t want to give us false hope but said things are in the pipeline, and sure enough 10 years down the line, Pascal is on a drugs trial. I’d heard and read about other boys being on trials but Pascal hadn’t been compatible for them. I wouldn’t say we were playing a waiting game, because you can’t sit and think ‘I wish something would come along’ as you have to live your life and enjoy it and to make things the best you possibly can for Pascal. And then this golden opportunity came along.

“We had to weigh up the pros and cons and to know that it was as safe as safe can be. We were going into the unknown, along with the doctors, and Pascal had to come first.

“So for my part as Pascal’s mam it gives me hope. It’s not a cure but it’s hope! I discussed with Pascal that it may well be that at the end of the trial, this particular trial anyway, that they might not achieve what they hope to achieve, however, it won’t be a disaster because it will advise and steer them in other directions and to try other things.”

The trial involves Pascal visiting the RVI inNewcastle every Thursday afternoon for the drug treatment, as well as some periodical visits to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, or the Campus for Ageing and Vitality, Newcastle University, for MRI scans, heart monitoring and various other things.

Over the past year, Pascal and his family have found the whole experience immensely positive and have praised the fantastic team of medical staff and fellow trial participants.

Brother Lawrence said: “I’d definitely recommend to anyone to go into clinical research as a participant, it’s really good.

“As said, there is a chance that this trial may not be 100% successful but this could lead to something that is a medical breakthrough - this could be step one of a cure or a permanent plaster over the deletion.”

Pascal added: “I find it interesting and nice to meet other people who are on this trial and the doctors are really nice as well.”

ENDS

For further press information or interviews, including patient interview, contact:

Jeremy Mountain, PR Executive at Gardiner Richardson, at jeremym@gardiner-richardson.com or call 0191 261 4250. Or, contact Ruth Lawson, PR Account Manager at Gardiner Richardson, at ruthl@gardiner-richardson.com or call 0191 261 4250.
   


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.

The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world.
For further information, visit the NIHR website (www.nihr.ac.uk).

The Clinical Research Network: North East and North Cumbria website can be accessed here: www.crn.nihr.ac.uk/nencumbria

Newcastle Academic Health Partners

The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University work together as part of the Newcastle Academic Health Partners. This collaboration, working with Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, brings together world-class clinical and research expertise to ensure patients benefit sooner from new treatments, diagnostics and prevention strategies.

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