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10,000th participant enrolled in major Plymouth-led intensive care trial that could save thousands of lives

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Professor Daniel Martin, a Consultant from University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (UHP) and Professor of Perioperative and Intensive Care Medicine at the University of Plymouth is the Co-Chief Investigator for the UK-ROX trial, which is exploring the use of oxygen treatment in intensive care units (ICU). This NIHR-funded clinical trial has reached a new recruitment milestone, having enrolled its 10,000th participant, as it hopes to improve survival rates in intensive care.

The study aims to enrol a total of 16,500 people from almost 100 ICUs from across the UK to test whether giving a lower concentration of oxygen than usual to people on ventilators may be beneficial.

Each year, around 184,000 patients are admitted to NHS ICUs and over 30% require help with their breathing using a ventilator (breathing machine). Giving oxygen through the ventilator is an essential part of this treatment, however, it is not known how much should be given. Both too much, and too little, may cause harm.

The UK-ROX trial, which is being supported locally by the NIHR Clinical Research Network South West Peninsula, is testing an approach known as ‘conservative oxygen therapy’, where a reduced oxygen saturation target is used in critically ill patients. If this is shown to reduce mortality rates compared to the current standard care, the study will recommend immediately changing clinical practice in ICUs throughout the NHS.

Professor Martin explained: “Oxygen is the most common treatment that we give to our patients on ICU, yet we don’t really know how much oxygen to give to patients in order to optimise their recovery.

“The aim of the study is to see if making relatively small adjustments to the amount of oxygen we give to patients can improve their survival. The overall difference this might make is relatively small, however, given how many patients we treat on ICUs every day in the UK, this adjustment has the potential to save thousands of lives.”

Professor Martin added: “Recruiting 10,000 participants is an amazing achievement and has only been possible as a result of the incredibly hard work that is going on at almost 100 ICUs around the country. Research and clinical teams have gone above and beyond, during very difficult times to recruit to this study. We are incredibly grateful to them.”

Dr Gary Minto, Director for Research & Development at UHP said: “In terms of participant numbers, this is the largest trial ever run in the UK in Intensive Care Medicine. It is a great credit to the team and their patients that this ambitious study is recruiting on target, and a great accolade for healthcare research in Plymouth that the leader of such important work is one of our own.”  

UK-ROX is sponsored by the Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre (ICNARC).

To find out more about research in your area, visit the NIHR’s Be Part of Research website: www.bepartofresearch.uk

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