More patients to get opportunity to participate in clinical trials

In collaboration with the Press Association

The Government wants as many people as possible to have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials, health secretary Alan Johnson has announced.

Mr Johnson has set out new plans to ensure that patients with any illness or disease are routinely informed of ongoing research that is relevant to their case and, if they meet the necessary criteria, are able to participate in clinical trials.

Speaking at a summit hosted by the prime minister to commemorate 60 years of NHS research, Mr Johnson described the UK as a "world leader" in health research and pointed out that the NHS has made unparalleled medical advances since its creation.

He said: "We owe a great debt to the many thousands of people who have contributed over the years to the future health and wellbeing of us all. These advances could not have happened without the imagination and commitment of the scientists and clinicians we celebrate today. The people who took part in their research deserve to be part of that celebration.

"I want every patient in the NHS to have the right to take part in approved medical research that is appropriate for them, if they choose to. And to underline the paramount importance of research, we will set out in the forthcoming NHS constitution the core role that it plays at the heart of the NHS."

Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: "The Government's announcement today is extremely welcome given that it helps to place health research at the core of the NHS.

"It shows a commitment to provide more information about the health research taking place in this country, and to involve and recruit more patients in clinical trials. This is good news for patients, both now and in the future."

The summit coincided with the publication of a new report in which some of the great research discoveries made in the NHS are detailed, including the identification of a link between smoking and lung cancer by Professor Sir Richard Doll and Professor Sir Austin Bradford Hill in 1950.

Dr Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust, said that medical research charities have played a "key" role in supporting research that has led to important advances in health.

"It is vital that patients continue to have the opportunity to participate in research programmes," he said. "The actions that the Government is taking today will help to ensure that research becomes a normal part of the business of the NHS and that patients are provided every opportunity to become partners in research aimed at health improvement."