NUMBERS of NHS patients taking part in research in England have reached an all-time high.
More than half a million people took part in studies under the Leeds-based National Institute for Health Research's clinical research network during 2010, compared to 300,000 the previous year.
The network was set up to reduce red tape around setting up studies, fund additional costs including research nurses, X-rays and scans, and also to identify patients to take part.
Network chief executive Jonathan Sheffield said: "In the past research activity was centred in the big teaching hospitals. However, by supporting research posts and costs in a wider range of NHS trusts, we've been able to cast the net wider.
"That means more patients, in many more locations across England, have access to clinical studies."
He added: "The NHS must make efficiency savings over the next four years. That means understanding which treatments work best for patients so we can focus resources in these areas.
"We need the level of research activity to continue to grow so we can determine the very best healthcare solutions and help the NHS to shape its service for the future.