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NIHR programme urged to do more on clinical trials

The National Institute for Health Research’s Health Technology Assessment programme has made important progress in providing evidence about healthcare treatments, but needs to do more to engage patients in clinical trials through the NHS, a conference has heard.

At a conference celebrating the 20th anniversary of the organisation, Iain Chalmers, a health services researcher and coordinator of the James Lind Initiative that lobbies for randomised controlled trials, said that there was much to celebrate in the work the HTA has done.

However, responding to an audience member, Chalmers agreed that more work was needed to make clinical trials a part of the NHS. He said changes to address this need were slow in part because it was hard for people to swallow the characterisation of patients as guinea pigs. He wondered whether one way to address the issue would be to “forget research, don’t even try to push it”, because research is seen too much as an “optional extra”.

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