Published on 13 May 2015

The ‘OK to ask’ campaign will be launched next week aimed at encouraging more patients or carers to ask about research opportunities that could be available to them or their loved ones when they use the NHS.

The annual National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) ‘OK to ask’ campaign is timed to coincide with International Clinical Trials Day, held on Wednesday, 20th May.

Clinical research is currently thriving in the NHS and more than 600,000 patients took part in clinical research studies in 2013/14. It is mostly through a clinician-led approach that patients are recruited into studies and that research overall has a low visibility in the NHS.

The 'OK to ask' campaign aims to raise public awareness about research and opportunities to take part in clinical studies

NIHR are working with the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) and its members (including DRWF) to change this and to ensure that patients are more aware that research takes place in all settings of the NHS. 

A recent survey conducted by the NIHR Clinical Research Network showed that 95% of people surveyed said it was important to them that the NHS carried out clinical research but less than 21% said they would feel very confident about asking their doctor about research opportunities.

In addition to encouraging more patients to ask about research opportunities, the campaign is also about reminding all healthcare professionals from consultants and GP’s to nurses and midwives, whether research-active or not, to be research-aware. This is something that was highlighted in AMRC’s excellent vision for the NHS with many of its members already doing a great deal to help raise public awareness about research and the opportunities to take part in clinical studies. 

Simon Denegri, Chair of INVOLVE and NIHR National Director for Patient and Public Participation and Engagement in Research said: “I am delighted that medical research charities are supporting NIHR’s ‘OK to ask’ campaign this year. They play such a vital role in funding research but also in making patients and families aware of opportunities to take part in clinical trials. Much of the life-saving clinical research carried out in the NHS could not happen without hundreds of thousands of patients and carers stepping forward every year to take part. Those who volunteer in this way report a range of benefits and are pleased to be potentially helping others like them with the same condition.”

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