Thank you all for helping to improve healthcare for generations to come!
That’s the message to 2,500 patients who took part in clinical trials at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust last year, ahead of International Clinical Trials Day.
The awareness event, which tells patients it’s “Okay to Ask” whether they would be suitable to take part in a clinical trial, takes place on Friday 20 May, and this year coincides with the tenth anniversary of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the organisation behind the event.
For the past decade, NIHR has helped to answer key questions for the NHS in partnership with hospital trusts and is taking the opportunity of International Clinical Trials Day to thank the millions of patients who have helped it to “change lives through research”.
And South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which ran 180 research trials involving 2,500 patients last year, is keen to do the same.
Julie Rowbotham, the trust’s research and development manager, said: “We would like to say a personal thank you to the 2,500 people who participated in the 180 research trials the trust opened in 2015-2016.
“Often, this was for no direct benefit to themselves but was of enormous benefit to improving outcomes for future patients.
“This “thank you” extends far beyond that to the thousands of people who are still involved in trials, some of whom are being followed up for twenty years and more.”
Retired teacher, devoted dad and husband Edward Sparshott, 65, was among the 2,500 patients who began receiving treatment as part of a clinical trial last year.
Edward, of Masham, near Bedale, was diagnosed with bladder cancer two years ago, after being referred to The Friarage Hospital in Northallerton by his doctor when he noticed changes in his urine.
He was told the cancer was not invasive or “dangerous”, but the growths in his bladder would need to be surgically removed.
Following the surgery, he underwent regular screening and, much to his relief, the first two results came back all clear.
But when he was screened a third time, Edward was told the growths had returned and he would now need chemotherapy to treat these.
It was then he learned he was suitable to take part in a clinical trial known as HIVEC II, to determine whether “hot” or “cold” chemotherapy is most effective – and didn’t hesitate to sign up.
“I came to The James Cook University Hospital for a morning and saw a specialist nurse, the research nurse who was overseeing the trial and my specialist Jo Cresswell,” he said.
“They explained very carefully what had happened to me and what needed to be done about it. I came away full of knowledge and also full of excitement as well.
“While taking part in the clinical trial, I feel that I’m being monitored carefully which is very reassuring.
“They explained the nature of what they were doing so well, with some patients on the trial selected at random to receive chemotherapy that was hot and others treated with cold chemotherapy – and I turned out to be in the “cold” category.”
Edward explained that being involved in the trial made him feel positive and gave him a sense of purpose after learning his cancer had returned.
He said: “It’s so easy when the C-word is mentioned to sit around and feel sorry for yourself; and I suppose everyone is shocked to start with and feels a little bit like that.
“But it’s so exciting to be engaged in something where you feel, not only that it’s going to do you some good – but that you’re also generally helping and making a contribution, rather than sitting around moping.
“That’s what I found particularly exciting about it – and still do.”
Shannon Barstow, a 20-year-old dancer, from Ormesby, also benefitted from a clinical trial to correct a hip problem.
After developing pain in her hip, the Teesside University student feared she may have inherited a condition called hip dysplasia from her mum – something which could have seriously hampered her chances of pursuing the career of her dreams.
But after being diagnosed with hip impingement – an abnormal shape of the hip – she was offered the chance to benefit from a clinical trial comparing two different types of treatment – surgery or exercise.
Shannon was selected for the surgical treatment route, and underwent a day case procedure at The James Cook University Hospital last May.
Despite the setback from her condition and surgery, Shannon was part of a team on her course which set up Diverse @ Tees, promoting dance in secondary schools and amongst children with learning disabilities.
And now, thanks to the surgery, she can dance pain free once again.
“Since being discharged from the clinical trial I have participated in a range of dance classes, pain free, gaining confidence within my dance ability,” she said.
“I can now look forward to a career in the arts.”
By thanking the millions of people who have participated in healthcare research over the last decade, the NIHR hopes to raise awareness of clinical trials amongst both healthcare staff and patients, so they become more of a routine part of clinical care.
You can check out Edward’s video on our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/southtees
Find out more about clinical trials at South Tees.