CRF for patients and public

Patient and public participation is central to medical research and results in improved healthcare for a range of medical conditions.

What to expect when taking part in research

If you decide to take part in a research study, NIHR Royal Free Clinical Research Facility staff are on hand throughout your entire research journey to explain the process and answer any questions you may have. Taking part is voluntary and you are free to withdraw at any time. If you are interested in taking part in research but have not been approached, feel free to ask your doctor or nurse if there are any research studies for which you may be eligible.

On your first visit to our Clinical Research Facility, a member of our team will meet you and provide you with written and verbal information about the study. There will be an opportunity to ask questions and make sure that you understand what will happen throughout your participation in the study. After you have received the information and your questions have been answered, you will have time to consider if you wish to participate. Usually, this will be at least 24 hours.

If you do decide to take part, you will be invited back to the facility to address any additional queries and complete a written consent form. Following this your participation in the study can formally begin. The initial phase may involve a ‘screening’ test to ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria. This could involve taking blood samples, measuring your vital signs (blood pressure, temperature, heart rate), scans or other investigations. If the screening tests confirm that you are eligible, you will proceed with the trial treatment or intervention. Each trial is different so your study doctor will explain the exact process to you.

Designed for your comfort

Our clinical environment is designed with your comfort and safety in mind. We have generous sized examination rooms, treatment bays, an open waiting area, and toilet facilities. All are accessible for those with mobility needs.

For participants who need to stay overnight, the adjacent research centre, the Pears Building, includes hotel style accommodation with 35 rooms (seven suites and 28 standard). These rooms include bed linen, towels, toiletries, a fridge, a television, tea and coffee making facilities, free Wi-Fi and air-conditioning. Some include kitchenettes and balconies, and there is also access to communal lounges. Rooms are available to patients who have travelled a long distance and those requiring trial related procedures beyond 12 hours. Local hotels may also be used as an alternative.

For participants requiring close monitoring we offer overnight inpatient beds in our Private Patient Unit (PPU) on the 12th floor of the main hospital with stunning views of Hampstead Heath or the London skyline. All inpatient stays are staffed by a member of the study team and supported by medical and nursing staff from the PPU.

What is a Clinical Research Facility?

Am NHS-based Clinical Research Facility (CRF) is dedicated space within an NHS hospital solely focused on running clinical research studies. Because of their location and clinical capability, NHS CRFs are often referred to as a ‘research ward’.

A CRF’s location inside the NHS means that the doctors who treat patients within the hospital can also run research studies within the same hospital and patients may be offered the opportunity to participate in research studies without changing their doctor or care team. Because the CRF’s remit includes testing new treatments, devices and diagnostic tools, NHS doctors have the opportunity to offer their patients additional treatment options which are not routinely available across the rest of the NHS.