Research and clinical trials
When Kathleen Pemberton developed rheumatoid arthritis, it progressed rapidly. Within six months she was in serious pain. Most of her joints were inflamed and she had difficulty moving around.
At her first consultation at Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone, east London, the specialist suggested she consider taking part in a new Research and clinical trials .
''It was a trial of a new treatment that had been accepted for use in America, but needed to be tested in England,'' says Kathleen.
''I was keen to take part because the painkillers I was on weren't working and I was looking for a treatment that did work. I didn't get paid any money, but I wanted to see if it could help.
''I saw a clinical trial nurse and she was thorough and helpful. She made sure I understood the risks. Therewas a series of consultations at the hospital, but not too many.''
While Kathleen received themedication through a drip into her arm, she wasin a pleasant ward with plenty of cups of tea. She was given one of a group of medicines called TNF inhibitors, originally developedthrough NHS research at the Kennedy Institute in London.
Kathleen's condition improved, and when the trial finished two years later she went on to another TNF inhibitor medicine that had already been approved for health service use.
Kathleen says that, looking back, she would take part in a trial again. ''Everybody was so kind and nice. I would recommend it to anybody. You're well looked after.''
It was abonus for Kathleento know she was a small part of the research that established TNF inhibitors as an important part of rheumatoid arthritis treatment.
''The pain and mobility problems of rheumatoid arthritis are beyond belief. You're in pain all the time.
''I'm pleased to have been one of the people who've shown how these treatments can help people with rheumatoid arthritis.''
Research and clinical trials are an everyday part of the work carried out by the NHS.
When Sheila was diagnosed with breast cancer, her GP suggested she join a clinical trial for a new breast cancer medicine.
When Kathleen Pemberton developed rheumatoid arthritis, she decided to take part in a clinical trial of a new treatment.
Christine Gratus discovered she had breast cancer after attending routine NHS screening.
When Nigel Lewis-Baker was told he had advanced prostate cancer, it was too late for surgery or radiotherapy.
Karen Ayres has an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis (MS). The severity of her symptoms varies, but at their worst she was paralysed from the neck down.