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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > North Cumbria one of top NHS trusts for clinical research

North Cumbria one of top NHS trusts for clinical research

Posted on Wednesday 21st December 2011

Leon Jonker and Dr Jim George

Clinical research activity at the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust is in the top third of all NHS Trusts in England.

63 different clinical trials and other research studies have been going in the last year at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.

In the last year, a total of 1,021 patients were recruited into these studies to help with the trials. The Trust is involved in trials for new cancer treatments, studies that review patients’ experiences of treatments, and large genetics projects for diseases such as diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and Parkinson’s disease.

This month, the Trust recruited its 4,000th patient since research activity monitoring was introduced by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), and more clinical teams within the Trust are coming on board to conduct studies. Clinical research is conducted by the Trust consultants in close collaboration with specialised research practitioners, with input from wider clinical teams and support services.

Leon Jonker, Clinical Effectiveness & Research Manager, said: “Back in early 2008, only a handful of dedicated staff were involved in clinical research, but thanks to investment by the NIHR and deployment of research support staff within the Trust, the number of consultants leading on studies has doubled and annual research activity has increased ten-fold.

“Patients can now choose to go into clinical trials or contribute to further the understanding of different diseases, whereas in the past this would have been reserved only for people living in or near larger cities.”

Clinical research is a patient priority – it means patients get access to new treatments, interventions and medicines. According to an Ipsos MORI poll published earlier this year, 97% of the public believe it’s important for the NHS to support research into new treatments. Equally, 89% of senior NHS leaders surveyed by the Health Services Journal believe that clinical trials are beneficial to patients.

Dr Jim George, Consultant Physician and Research Lead, said: “We now have over fifty consultants in the Trust who are Principal Investigators in major national research studies. Being involved in research keeps consultants up to date with the latest advances and treatments in their speciality and results in better care for Cumbrian patients.”

The NIHR was set up by the Department of Health to increase clinical research activity in all NHS Trusts, with the aim to remove the postcode lottery historically associated with clinical research. As a result of this, patients in north Cumbria are now more likely to be offered the choice to participate in clinical research whereas in the past this was limited mainly to residents in cities such as Oxford, Cambridge and London.

A new website launched by the NIHR shows that for the period April 2010 to March 2011, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust is placed in the top 33% of all NHS Trusts in England for total activity, and in the top 20% for the total number of different studies. This matches trusts such as Northumbria, Wirral and Chester.

More information on clinical research activity in Trusts across England and on what clinical research entails can be found on the NIHR website: