The Royal Free London (RFL) is celebrating its best ever year for recruiting patients on to clinical research studies adopted by the research arm of the NHS, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

In 2018/19 a total of 5,562 patients were recruited on to nationally-adopted NIHR portfolio research and 10%t of the trust’s recruitment took place at Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital, with the remainder taking place at the Royal Free Hospital. This included 821 cancer research patients and 718 renal patients. A further 737 patients were recruited on to the 100,000 genomes study, which could lead to more effective treatments for cancer and rare conditions.

There were also big gains in respiratory, more than tripling from 68 patients to 206 in just a year and also in anaesthetics, more than doubling from 314 patients to 636. A total of 25 of the trust’s specialities were involved.

Farhan Naim, director of research and development for the trust, said: “These figures are outstanding. Four years ago we recruited 3,200 patients on to NIHR portfolio research and that has risen almost every year since, resulting in our best ever performance to date.

“Clinical research brings numerous benefits to our patients and staff in terms of improved clinical outcomes, quality of care and experience. These figures are testament to our incredible research and development delivery and management teams for supporting patients and investigators conducting this ground-breaking research.

“Our goal is to be in the top 10 trusts for patients participating in clinical research and to embed research into the everyday clinical life of the hospital.”

Farhan added: “Patients tell us they want to take part as they know they are taking part in world-leading clinical research. The fact that often we recruit the first patient in the UK or Europe is testament to our committed research teams. The link between greater clinical research activity of a healthcare organisation and improved patient outcomes and quality of care is well documented. Being at the forefront of research also means you attract the highest calibre of clinicians.

Earlier this year RFH recruited the first UK patient to the NIHR portfolio adopted A BRAVE study. The study will test whether a new drug, Avelumab, can stop a protein that camouflages cancer from the body’s immune system. The study will assess whether taking the drug for one year will improve survival rates for patients.

Tinashe Samakomva, a senior neurology research nurse, said: “Nursing patients within a research capacity has been an enriching and rewarding experience. For me this work embodies the core values of nursing – care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment. By recruiting patients to world class research we are seeking to create world class treatment.” 

Find out more about some of our NIHR adopted studies including PARTNER 2 (HIV), ALLN-177 (kidney stones), WISARD and A-BRAVE (HIV and breast cancer - principal investigators pictured) and one for wet age-related macular degeneration.