Record number of NHS patients join pioneering trials at London trusts

Record numbers of NHS patients are being enrolled for clinical trials — with eight London trusts among the top 20 offering pioneering studies.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals — which includes Evelina London Children’s Hospital — was the most active research trust in the country, with 567 trials involving 19,522 patients.

A total of 177,400 enrolled on clinical trials in the capital in 2018-19, up almost 40,000 on the previous year, according to annual league tables from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

There was also a big increase nationally, from 725,333 to 870,250 participants. The total number of NHS trials increased by more than 300 to 6,106. 

This means that patients are able to access the most advanced experimental treatments available, offering hope to many who may have run out of approved options. 

University College London Hospitals came eighth (448 trials) and Barts Health ninth (438). Imperial College Healthcare was 11th, King’s College 12th, St George’s 15th, The Royal Marsden 16th and the Royal Free 17th.

Professor Andrew Shennan, co-clinical director of NIHR clinical research network south London, and consultant obstetrician at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “Research is vital as it is the only way we can develop better treatments and care, as well as to improve overall diagnosis and prevention for our patients.”

The number of trials at Guy’s and St Thomas’ increased by 34, with almost 500 more patients recruited.

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Eilidh Ho, 33, of Clerkenwell, enrolled her newborn son Finlay for the SOFTER trial at Guy’s and St Thomas’. The study is testing whether using water softeners from birth can help reduce the risk of a child developing eczema.

Ms Ho found out about the trial after attending antenatal classes at Guy’s and St Thomas’. She said: “My nephews suffered from eczema as babies so I was already aware of it and interested myself to see if there was a difference using water softeners. 

“I would 100 per cent encourage people to take part in research. A trial is something that will hopefully benefit a lot of people in the long run.”

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust was the most research-active mental health trust nationally. North East London NHS Foundation Trust was fifth.

For the sixth year, Barts Health topped the table nationally for the number of studies sponsored by industry, with 153. These are sponsored by the life science industry — such as pharmaceutical firms — as opposed to being funded by the NIHR, medical charities, research councils or the Government. 



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