The practice is broadening its academic horizons and taking on more research projects which are run by the Thames Valley Primary Care Research Network. Many academic institutions such as the Universities of Oxford, Southampton, Cambridge, Reading, Nottingham, and Bristol use the network to recruit suitable patients for their trials. These are purely academic trials run by universities, they are not commercial trials from pharmaceutical companies.

We are currently running between 5 to 10 trials at the surgery, and the practice lead is Dr Cheung. Some of these trials recruit patients by sending out letters or text messages to appropriate patients; some are ‘opportunistic’, which means the doctor you are seeing might mention them during a consultation if he or she thinks you would be right for a particular study. Most of the studies would not involve you taking new medicines, or anything that is ‘risky’.

We would never put pressure on any of our patients to join a trial, and you are always free to say no if a doctor suggests it or you receive a letter. However, we are very fortunate to have centres of international excellence such as the JR and the Churchill on our doorsteps, and if you can spare the time, it is studies like these which move medicine forward and potentially benefit all our children in the future.