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Clinical research in North West London received a boost on 1 April 2014, with the reconfiguration of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) North West London Clinical Research Network.

The Network – hosted by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, is one of 15 across England. It seeks to ensure that high

NIHR North West London Clinical Research Network

NIHR North West London Clinical Research Network

quality clinical research studies can be set-up quickly in the NHS, and that hospitals, surgeries and clinics have the people and support they need to be able to carry out clinical trials for the benefit of their patients.

The NIHR North West London Clinical Research Network will receive around £12.8m of funding this year to invest in clinical research nurses to match patients with appropriate research opportunities, carry out the clinical duties required for the studies and cover research-related costs such as x-rays and scans.

Having the opportunity to take part in research studies is viewed as important by North West London patients and carers.  According to a consumer poll carried out by Censuswide last year, 94 per cent of people in the area said that NHS doctors and nurses should always tell patients about clinical trials that would be suitable for them.

Commenting on the start-up of Clinical Research Networks across the UK, Dr Jonathan Sheffield, national chief executive explained:

“The Network has been running for a while, but from April 2014 we are operating in a new structure that will help us to reach out to even more healthcare providers and patients, and really make clinical research a part of the “day job” for the NHS – which is what it should be.”

Since its inception in 2006/7, the NIHR North West London Clinical Research Network has contributed between 8 and 12% of the total number of patients recruited each year into the Clinical Research Network portfolio of studies in England. Its strong impact is also evident with almost 290,000 patients recruited into over 1,400 NIHR Clinical Research Network portfolio studies in the same period.

Locally, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust became the first UK site to recruit patients to ACTiON, a study in rheumatoid arthritis sponsored by Roche. Dr Sonya Abraham, Chief Investigator of the study and Hon Consultant Physician at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “The recruitment was only made feasible through the support offered by the Network to employ a dedicated rheumatology research nurse, and the staff at Imperial being so supportive in referring the appropriate patients.”

Professor Jonathan Weber, Director of Research of Imperial College AHSC, said: “The impact of the North West London Clinical Research Network on Imperial College Healthcare is significant. We’ve increased patient participation in clinical trials by 11% in 2013/14 compared to the previous year, and we intend to perform even better this year. Over the next five years, we intend to broaden our focus and work on enhancing clinical research in mental health and primary care. “

Leading the new Network will be Dr Robina Coker, Lead Clinical Director and Joanne Holloway, Chief Operating Officer.

Dr Robina Coker

Dr Robina Coker

Dr Robina Coker said: “I am delighted that the new Network has now been launched.  We have a fantastic team supporting clinical research in North West London, and I am excited about the opportunities to expand our portfolio. We look forward very much to working with all our stakeholders across the region.”

Joanne Holloway said: “There is great energy and enthusiasm within the team around the opportunities for collaborative working and we want to foster real integrated working to support the delivery of high quality research across North West London. Patients are at the centre of all that we do and should be offered opportunities to take part in the research as part of their normal care and the Network is ideally placed to help us achieve this.”

What next? How can I get involved?

If you are a clinician or clinical academic interested in setting up a clinical research study, contact Shahir Uddin, the Network’s Research Support Coordinator, at shahir.uddin@nhs.net who will be able to guide you through the research application process and help you to access appropriate support for your study.

If you have been approached to take part as an investigator in a commercial or pharmaceutical company trial, please contact Laura Hynes, at laurahynes@nhs.net, who can help with getting the study included in the NIHR Portfolio, a requirement for accessing Network support.

If you are a patient and would like find out more about how you can participate in clinical trials, contact Peter Handford, the Network’s Patient and Public Involvement Lead, at Peter.handford@nhs.net.

More information about the Network can be found at http://www.crn.nihr.ac.uk/about_us