Milestone reached in effort to digitalise volunteer consent

The NIHR BioResource Newcastle recruits its 1,000th volunteer using electronic consent.

In 2019 the NIHR BioResource Centre in Newcastle - one of 13 across England - became the first Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals (NUTH)-sponsored project to launch electronic consent, in line with the Trust’s plans to become paperlite.

Since then, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and having to pause recruitment for most of 2020, the team have managed to recruit an incredible 1,000 volunteers electronically. During the pandemic our Newcastle centre, in collaboration with Trevor Liddle, Information Specialist in the Newcastle Joint Research office, developed a system that would allow volunteers to join the BioResource from the safety of their own homes.

Commenting on this, Manager, Dr Emma Raine said:

"We were very fortunate to have developed a robust electronic recruitment system before the onset of the pandemic which meant we were able to very quickly adapt this to the changing situation. At a time when the importance of research became clear to the public and so many people wanted to volunteer, we were able to offer them that opportunity."

The 1,000th eConsent volunteer, Lisa Pattinson, joined the NIHR BioResource at the NIHR Newcastle Clinical Research Facility (CRF), a specialist research department in the Royal Victoria Infirmary, supporting delivery of high-quality, cutting-edge medical research.

Lisa said of her experience:

"I have a number of family members and close friends with different long-term health conditions and really I just wanted to try to help, even in a very small way, towards identifying better treatments in the future. Volunteering to give a blood sample is a very simple way to do this and being able to sign up and give consent electronically made the process really quick and easy to do."

The NIHR BioResource is a partnership facilitating cutting-edge health research by connecting researchers with the right participants, samples or data for their studies. Over 200,000 BioResource volunteers, with and without health conditions, have provided informed consent for their health records to be made available for approved research purposes, in addition to providing a blood/saliva sample and consent to be contacted about participating in relevant research.

Everyone who volunteers makes a valuable contribution to the search for better diagnosis and treatment of disease. Without participants, research cannot progress.

If you would like more information about the NIHR BioResource please visit our website, or you can register your interest in volunteering here.