Although the NHS has made huge progress in developing new treatments and medicines, there is still a lot that is unknown. Research can help us answer questions, filling in the gaps in knowledge and changing the way doctors and health professionals look after their patients. This means improved treatment and care for patients. People being looked after by the NHS today benefit from research that has already taken place and will continue to benefit from research taking place today.
The NHS is committed to offering patients opportunities to take part in research appropriate to them – this is enshrined in the NHS Constitution:
“The NHS commits: to inform you of research studies in which you may be eligible to participate (pledge)”
Patients tell us that they want opportunities to be involved in research. For example, of 1.2 million UK women contacted to take part in the UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening, only 32 complained they had been contacted.
Should the NHS work with the Life Sciences Industry/Pharmaceutical Companies when performing research?
The short answer is that we have to – we need their expertise and resources, and it’s the only way of getting lifesaving discoveries developed by scientists into the hands of doctors and patients . There will always be people who disagree with the way the pharmaceutical industry works, and object to involvement with it. Although they’re not without their problems, it’s important to remember that every single drug used to treat cancer patients today has been developed with the aid of a pharma company.
Through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the government has committed to working with the life sciences industry/Pharma to deliver first class clinical research in the NHS. To offer reassurance to all those involved in research, all medical research involving people in the UK, whether in the NHS or the private sector, has to be approved by an independent research ethics committee.