VIDEO: Sheffield patients help revolutionise care

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Twinkly-eyed Alice Farar is one of the stars of the show at the Clinical Research Facility at the Hallamshire Hospital.

The 80-year-old is a familiar face, chatting to nurses and charming the doctors as her blood is taken and prepared to be sent to Switzerland.

Alice Farar

Alice Farar

The cancer patient is one of about 15,000 who have opted to help pave the way for new and improved treatments for patients in South Yorkshire and beyond by taking part in clinical research.

She said: “The treatment here is wonderful. Everybody is so friendly that you almost forget you’re coming in with a serious illness. If you want to ask anything, you can, and if you have problems, you just phone up.”

Alice, of Athersley North in Barnsley, was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2010.

After 18 months of treatment she was in partial remission and has been attending the research facility every month since to give blood.

The blood is spun and separated and sent away to Geneva for analysis

It is hoped the research will help other bone cancer patients.

Figures released to coincide with International Clinical Trials Day on Tuesday show the number of patients taking part in trials in Sheffield has increased by more than 20 per cent in a year.

The volunteers were invited to an open day at the Clinical Research Unit – with bases in the Hallamshire and Northern General – to find out more.

Prof Simon Heller, research and development director at the trust, said: “The day is to increase awareness among the Sheffield public of the importance of research and trials.

“Research is about developing and testing new ideas that could transform care for patients suffering with some of the world’s biggest diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.”

One of the patients helped is Jean Herd of Hackenthorpe.

The 55-year-old was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis 10 years ago and suffers with extreme fatigue, swollen joints and fevers, meaning she struggles even to pull the duvet cover up when getting into bed.

A year ago, she was invited to take part in a trial and was given access to a new drug. Since getting involved, her joints are less swollen and tender.

She said: “Without this research I’d struggle a lot more – you don’t realise how tired you feel until you get better. A couple of weeks ago my mum said, ‘It’s nice to have you back.’

“I just feel like me again.”