Public Release: 

What trials do the NHS spend their money on?

A new trials register makes information even more widely available

BioMed Central

The NHS Trusts Clinical Trials Register, launched by Current Controlled Trials Ltd in September 2003 (, makes information about randomised controlled trials wholly funded by the NHS in England freely available to health professionals, patients and researchers worldwide.

Randomised controlled trials are considered the gold standard of research providing evidence on which future treatment can be based. In order to encourage patient recruitment into trials, there is also an increasing need to publicise the existence of trials and to keep the information about individual trials up-to-date and patient friendly.

The register, supported by the Department of Health, is an attempt to identify the randomised controlled trials that are currently funded by the NHS in England at Trust level. To qualify, the trial must:

  • Be taking place in England
  • With an end date after 31 March 2003
  • Be in a location that is the lead centre in the case of a multicentre trial
  • Not be part of a nationally or regionally funded programme, or funded by a charity or a commercial company
  • Have all research costs fully met by the NHS Trust's internal research and development budget

To make sure that the trials are identified unambiguously, they have all been assigned an International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN; according to the numbering scheme developed by Current Controlled Trials. The ISRCTN helps to track all publications and reports resulting from each trial.

Information about randomised controlled trials is already included in the National Research Register (NRR;, a register of ongoing and recently completed research projects funded by, or of interest to, the UK's National Health Service. However, with over 90,000 records in the NRR, information about randomised controlled trials can be hard to find. The NHS Trusts Clinical Trials Register has been built from information received from the NRR. Current Controlled Trials then works with the individual Trusts to enhance individual trial records. The register currently contains 529 records, making it easy to find relevant trials. The register will be updated annually via Trusts' regular submissions to the NRR. The NHS Trusts Clinical Trials Register helps to complete the picture of randomised controlled trials being undertaken in England by adding to the three other NHS trial registers (the National, Regional and Health Technology Assessment Programmes) that are pooled in Current Controlled Trial's metaRegister of Controlled Trials (

The NHS Trusts Clinical Trials Register is an open access resource - meaning that access to is free to all users.


Current Controlled Trials Ltd is part of the Current Science Group of companies ( The Group has its headquarters in London, UK and also has offices in Philadelphia and Tokyo. For further information about Current Controlled Trials please contact Anne Greenwood by email at or by phone on 44-207-323-0323 or visit our website

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