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Business & Economy

New centre to improve patient access to commercial clinical research in the North East and Cumbria

The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been selected as one of five NHS trusts in England to host a new Patient Recruitment Centre (PRC) for late-phase commercial clinical research.

Based at the Campus for Ageing and Vitality site in Newcastle, the new PRC will enable local patients to take part in late-phase commercial clinical research – studies funded by the life sciences industry – through which participants can access potentially cutting edge new drugs and treatments before they become widely available within the NHS.

During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the new research centres will also increase opportunities for patients across the region to access trials assessing the latest potential treatments against COVID-19.

The new centre, which will serve patients across the North East and North Cumbria, is one of five being set up across the country, to provide opportunities for patients in regions across England who may not previously have been able to take part in cutting edge clinical studies.

Under the management of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and run locally by The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the centre will provide dedicated space, purpose-designed facilities and medical expertise to deliver clinical research within a convenient local NHS hospital location – with the aim of increasing the number of studies being run across the region. By working closely with local NHS trusts and stakeholders, the centres will provide new opportunities for local patients to take part in important health research studies and trials.

Professor Yan Yiannakou, clinical director for the PRC in North East and North Cumbria (pictured centre), said: “By focussing on conditions that affect many people here in the North East we hope to make a real difference to the health and well-being of our local population.”

The five new centres across England have been made possible through a £7 million Government investment as part of the ​Life Sciences Industrial Strategy​ and​ ​Life Sciences Sector Deal 2​, which sets out a series of measures to strengthen the UK environment for clinical research. The centres will increase the NHS’s capacity to deliver vital research for patients, while decreasing the time it takes to set-up late-phase commercial trials within the NHS – improving the UK’s competitiveness in the global market and providing opportunities for patients to benefit from early access to innovation.

Dr William van’t Hoff, chief executive of the NIHR Clinical Research Network, ​said: “I am delighted to see funding awarded to these five centres across England. They will really increase opportunities for patients in the NHS to take part in research, will benefit the NHS and provide important investment to the country.

“The importance of clinical research has never been more evident than in the COVID-19 pandemic. The NIHR has been able to help fund and to support key research studies and trials into the basis, genetics, prognosis and, critically, to offer potential treatments, including the largest global clinical treatment trial in COVID-19. These centres now give us a further dimension and opportunity to offer large scale trials, for instance in treatment for COVID-19, and to help deliver those at pace and scale.”