Thousands of Greater Manchester patients access improved care thanks to clinical research

More than 43,700 participants in Greater Manchester played a part in developing healthcare over the past year, according to new figures from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

The figures have been revealed today as the NIHR publishes its annual research statistics. The statistics cover commercial research studies sponsored by the life sciences industry – such as pharmaceutical companies – and non-commercial studies funded by organisations such as medical charities, research councils, the government or NIHR.

This year’s figures, which cover the 12-month period between April 2017 to March 2018, suggest that health research is thriving across Greater Manchester and the NHS continues to be seen as a good place to deliver high quality clinical trials.

The table includes the first six months of research activity for Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), which launched as an organisation in October 2017. During this period MFT recruited 7,703 participants to 369 studies, which put us 12th nationally.

However when combining this with the data with our legacy trusts’ data to make up the 12th month period our total numbers stand at 15,190 participants and 484 studies. This would see MFT sit 4th in the league table, which is a fantastic achievement and a testament to all those who take part in research and our hard-working research teams

In total, more than 43,716 participants across the region took part in clinical research studies supported by the NIHR in 2017/18. This is an increase of 5.75 per cent on 2016/17 and means that 211,500 participants in Greater Manchester have been involved in studies supported by NIHR over the last five years.

Patients were recruited on to a total of 1,034 research studies across the Greater Manchester area during 2017/18. These studies cover all medical areas, from cancer to dementia; from surgery to infectious diseases, and everything in between.

One-hundred per cent of Greater Manchester’s 14 hospital trusts and 11 Clinical Commissioning Groups continue to be research-active. This means patients across the region have a good chance of taking part in research, which can provide access to new and improved treatments and allows people to contribute to developments in future care.

Research can transform lives, and that was certainly the case for Penny from Lancashire who was treated at Saint Mary’s Hospital after recurrent miscarriages.

Blood tests showed Penny had a condition called inherited thrombophilia, a blood clotting problem which can lead to an increased risk of miscarriage.  She took part in the ALIFE2 clinical trial, which involved daily injections of a blood thinning drug called heparin from early pregnancy to 36 weeks.

Penny’s pregnancy progressed well, and baby Layla arrived safely in September 2017, to the joy of her parents. Penny said:

It’s only by doing research that the medical staff can find out whether new treatments work, and I’m really proud to have played a part in potentially helping other women to become mums. 

In a national context, Greater Manchester continues to perform strongly. The region has three hospital trusts in the top 30 of the NIHR’s national 2017/18 Research Activity League Table, which measures the number of studies being conducted and the number of participants recruited to studies within NHS organisations. They are:

  • Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (12th)
  • The Christie NHS Foundation Trust (22nd)
  • Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust (27th).

The number of NIHR-supported life sciences industry research studies being conducted in Greater Manchester rose by 4.4 per cent in 2017/18. That equated to 307 commercial research studies – the most to ever take place in the region and the third highest of any region in England in 2017/18.

More than 3,650 participants in Greater Manchester took part in those commercial studies in 2017/18, which represented an increase of 34.5 per cent on the previous year.

Dr Jonathan Sheffield OBE, Chief Executive Officer of the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) said: “Health research is the key to finding new and innovative cures, treatments and care for patients. Evidence also shows that research-active organisations consistently deliver better outcomes to all patients they treat, not just those involved in health research trials.

We aim to ensure research is embedded in all aspects of care delivered in Greater Manchester and England.  We also wish to provide an opportunity for anyone to be involved in a health research study. With nearly three quarters of a million participants nationally in the last year we are moving closer to achieving this.