Researchers, clinicians and health and social care staff celebrated clinical research at Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust for this year’s International Clinical Trials Day.
The annual awareness day on 20 May marks the work of James Lind who held the first clinical trial in 1747 on board the HMS Salisbury when he experimented with different remedies for helping 12 men with scurvy. The Scottish Physician found that sailors given citrus fruits made an impressive recovery compared to the other treatments.
Trusts around the country celebrated again this year including Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust who held stands and activities on Tuesday 22 May in the St Helier Hospital Renal department, St Helier and Epsom Obstetrics and Gynaecology departments, and the South West London Elective Orthopaedic Centre at Epsom Hospital to celebrate International Clinical Trials Day.
Every year, more than half a million people help the NHS to improve healthcare and develop life-saving treatments by taking part in research. Anita Abena-Amoako, age 35, from Wallington is one such person. In 2011, Anita had an acute episode of chronic kidney disease (CKD), during which she had to spend three months on a dialysis machine and now visits St Helier Hospital to dialyse three times a week. Anita is now taking part in the clinical study RADAR that aims to build a database of renal data from patients around the country so rare renal diseases can be identified and new ways to improve treatments can be trialed.
Anita said: “This data is needed to be able to move forward and do research and without it you can’t do the research. Knowing that I’m helping and contributing in that way is a good feeling.
“I imagine that this will improve my treatment in the future, but if not me then there are other people coming through and it will be able to assist them with their treatment and whatever they’re going through.”
As part of the study Anita has online access to the results of regular tests she has during dialysis, which has helped her understand her condition better. She said: “When my blood tests are done, they get uploaded overnight and then I can view them myself the next morning, which is quite handy. If I go to a different GP they like to take a blood test but actually they can just log on to my results to see the trend and that’s valuable because seeing the trend gives a better idea of my situation. It’s all about educating yourself and having that access to results allows me to educate myself about my condition, which makes me feel empowered. I feel like a mini doctor.”
Research and Delivery Director at Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust Dr Pauline Swift said: “Epsom and St Helier hospitals are absolutely committed to promoting high quality research opportunities for patients being treated within our NHS Trust. We have increased patient participation in research year on year for the last three years – such that over 1000 of our patients took part in NIHR research studies last year.”
Nationally, the NIHR is running the ‘I Am Research’ campaign, which encourages people to find out about the opportunities available in health and care research. The campaign also pays tribute to NHS staff for the work they do in supporting research. You can find out more about the ‘I Am Research’ campaign here.
This year the NHS is turning 70, which is a good opportunity to celebrate the important role that research plays within the health service. Research in the NHS has consistently improved treatments for patients over the last 70 years having a positive impact on many people’s lives. Since 2006, this has been coordinated by the NIHR and the NIHR wants to continue improving treatments and care for patients over the next 70 years as well through research.