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  1. ITV Report

Newcastle hospitals top list for UK medical research

​The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has kept its position as the country's top performing trust for clinical research.

It gives thousands of patients the chance to take part in medical trials, offering them access to new drugs and treatments, with the potential to improve their conditions.

The number of trials is increasing. In the year 2016/17, 528 separate research studies took place within the trust, compared with 479 studies four years earlier. The work is paid for through a combination of grants and funding from pharmaceutical companies.

In some cases, participants can be among the first - anywhere in the world - to be offered certain treatments.

One of our patients was the first patient in the world to participate in a clinical trial, so that's what we call a global first and it means that that patient had the opportunity to access a novel and innovative treatment before anybody else in the world.

– Prof Julia Newton, Trust Deputy Medical Director

Several other North East health trusts feature in the research table, which is produced by the National Institute for Health Research, a branch of the NHS.

  • ​The North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust has been recognised as the top performing ambulance trust
  • ​Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust came third among mental health trusts
  • ​SouthTees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been ranked 22nd overall

Frances Roberts-Wood has taken part in several clinical trials at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital since she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis four years ago. RA is an auto-immune condition, meaning her immune system targets her joints, leading to pain, inflammation and fatigue.

As a result of taking part in one trial, Frances now takes a drug which she says has vastly improved her condition.

Being diagnosed with a lifelong condition can be difficult to deal with. Taking part in the trial has given me access to extra support to manage my condition as I get to see my research nurse every month.

There’s so much that we don’t know about autoimmune diseases. If taking part in clinical research means we improve our understanding of these conditions and the treatments available to patients, it's worth it.

– Frances Roberts-Wood