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Saturday 20 May is International Clinical Trials Day and the HSC R&D Division within the Public Health Agency (PHA) is using it to encourage patients, carers and the public to get involved in research and ask healthcare professionals if there is a study they might be suitable for.

The slideshow image shows staff and patients in the Cancer Centre celebrating Clinical Trials as part of the cancers trials network.

Dr Daniel Butler, a GP Research Fellow with the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network talks about why research relies on patients getting involved.

“As a doctor in General Practice I get to see first-hand the difference new treatments can make to my patients. Clinical Trials are crucial to the development of a range of new treatments. Participating in clinical trials can benefit individual patients and contribute to improving the future treatment of others. Partnerships between patients and healthcare practitioners are essential for high-quality research which translates into better and more effective treatment and care.

“Through the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network, I began working as a research fellow on the Platform Adaptive trial of NOvel antiviRals for eArly treatMent of COVID-19 in the Community (Panoramic Study*).

“In order for the study to happen we first needed to recruit participants and through collaborating with colleagues across HSCNI we developed a text message service which opened participation up right across Northern Ireland through a central recruitment hub. Allowing everyone in Northern Ireland to participate, regardless of where they lived.

“As a result, participation in the study in Northern Ireland has been a huge success, with over 1,000 participants being recruited across 78% of Northern Irelands GP Practices (approximately 8 out of every 10 GP Practices).

“The vital support of the participants allowed us to trial and analyse COVID-19 medications and their effectiveness. The first results of the study were published and will provide evidence to guide future healthcare policy around the appropriateness of COVID-19 medication for different patient groups and this will benefit everyone.

“I would like to thank the public who volunteered as participants in the study, as without their willingness to be part of a trial testing new treatments, studies like this would not happen. Thankfully we are now mostly living without restrictions, but the COVID-19 virus is still present and this study will make a difference.”

Click here to read Dan's full blog about why research relies on patients getting involved>

People in Northern Ireland have access to high-quality clinical trials across all trust areas and primary care. For example, the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network and the Northern Ireland Cancer Trials Network bring together health and social care professionals, academics, industry, voluntary organisations, patients and members of the public. The work they undertake not only seeks to provide evidence on the best outcomes for patients, but also attracts major funding and economic investment into Northern Ireland.

Dr Janice Bailie, Assistant Director of HSC R&D Division within the PHA, said: “The willingness of people to take part in clinical research allows new diagnostics, medicines or healthcare practices to be tested. This is essential for progress to be made towards more effective and safer healthcare. On International Clinical Trials Day we acknowledge and commend everybody who takes part in a clinical trial and hope to encourage others to do so too.”

It is essential that clinical trials and other forms of research are undertaken to question whether there may be better, safer and more effective ways of doing things within healthcare than how things are currently being done.

For more information about taking part in research please visit or

For more information on the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network see


Notes to Editor:
International Clinical Trials Day is held on 20 May each year to commemorate the day that James Lind started what is often considered the first randomised clinical trial, aboard a ship on 20 May 1747. Clinical research is now the foundation of healthcare and is made possible thanks to the support and commitment of patients working in partnership with researchers and healthcare professionals.
Panoramic is a UK-wide clinical study sponsored by the University of Oxford and funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research to find new treatments for COVID-19 to stop people getting poorly and going to hospital.