Hundreds of new medical research studies and trials started in Greater Glasgow and Clyde last year, with the number and overall recruitment recovering to its pre-pandemic level. 

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s annual Research and Innovation report revealed that 330 studies commenced during 2023, and more than 1,000 others directly involving patients were in the recruiting or follow-up phases.

The top three specialities for recruiting patients to trials and studies were cardiovascular, cancer, and trauma and emergencies. 

In 2023, the West of Scotland Innovation Hub, which is hosted by NHSGGC and works in collaboration with industry, clinical leaders and academic experts to address challenges and improve the delivery of care, supported 46 projects.

These included projects involving artificial intelligence and other new innovations including in radiology diagnostics, turnaround times for Chest X-ray and CT scans, stroke treatments and the at-home management of conditions such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

To date, the Hub has helped leverage more than £83 million in funding through collaboration with industry and academia. 

This recovery follows the temporary closure of new studies, and most other studies that were not providing essential care, during the Covid pandemic. 

However, as part of NHSGGC’s Research and Innovation recovery plan, the report said the numbers of researchers, studies and overall recruitment were “now back to the level seen prior to the pandemic”. 

The number of principal investigators, which is a key measure of research activity in NHSGGC, has increased from 449 just before the pandemic, to 577. 

The report, by Professor Julie Brittenden, Director of Research and Innovation at NHSGGC, said: “In 2024, the vision is for NHSGGC to continue playing its part as a powerful driver of innovation through the development, testing and adoption of novel devices, treatments and technologies, for the benefit of all patients in the NHS.

“Research and Innovation will continue to work collaboratively with our partners in academia and industry to advance our knowledge and practices.

“The focus is on delivering Research and Innovation which impacts significantly on patients’ care and experiences, addresses national public health priorities and results in cost-savings and greater efficiencies in the NHS.”

Prof Brittenden told how Research and Innovation in NHSGGC will focus on more ways to overcome challenges in 2024.

She added: “In the year ahead, the focus is to further develop NHSGGC’s Research and Innovation portfolio and increase opportunities for patients and clinicians to take part in high quality research and access state of the art therapeutics, devices and innovative technologies which will transform patients’ pathways and service delivery.”

Dr Jennifer Armstrong, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Medical Director, said: “Our annual report highlights the incredible work that is going on within Research and Innovation in NHSGGC. 

“With hundreds of new studies and trials getting underway in 2023, it was a hugely successful year and we are particularly delighted that so many of our projects directly involve patients who will ultimately benefit from advancements in their care. 

“It is also encouraging to see the number of new studies and trials and overall recruitment recovering to pre-pandemic levels as we continue to play our part in enabling Scotland to grow as an internationally competitive location for clinical research and innovation.”

The full NHSGGC Research and Innovation Annual Report can be downloaded here.