Clinical research being carried out by a scientist

Future of clinical research delivery outlined

In an effort to improve the efficient delivery, diversity and accessibility of clinical research, and embed this learning into the NHS, the UK Government has outlined its ambitious vision for the future.

Published as part of the Saving and improving lives: the future of UK clinical research delivery report, it outlines plans to support the future of clinical research delivery in the UK and benefit patients, clinicians and researchers across the whole of the country.

Developed in conjunction with the devolved administrations, the strategy outlines how the UK will deliver faster, more efficient and more innovative research.

This includes steps such as the streamlining of costing, contracting and approvals processes to the rapid ethics review pilot ran by the Health Research Authority (HRA), which aims to halve the time to provide a final opinion for research applications.

Through the sharing of best practice, research participation will become more accessible, increasing diversity and allowing more people across the UK to take part, in turn helping ensure research is more representative of the general population and appropriately serving under-represented communities.

Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary, said: “Clinical research is the backbone of healthcare – it is the way we improve the detection, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease and improves the lives of patients across the country. This has never been truer than in our response to the pandemic.

“By taking advantage of our world-renowned research expertise, and a strong partnership between business, academia, the NHS and government, we are determined to make the UK the best possible place to carry out clinical research that will improve the health of people here and across the world.

“Ground-breaking technologies, data and analytics will transform healthcare and save lives. Now is the time to seize the opportunity and make this vision a reality.”

Minister for Innovation, Lord Bethell, added: “We are rapidly approaching a step change in global healthcare, with new technologies and treatments transforming the way we diagnose, treat and prevent illness.

“We need to act now to position the UK at the forefront of this healthcare revolution.

“Our vision sets out how we will achieve a clinical research delivery system in the UK which is innovative, delivers for all research sponsors and patients and is resilient in the face of future healthcare crises.”

The UK Government’s vision for the future of clinical research delivery is built around 5 key themes:

  1. Clinical research embedded in the NHS: to create a research-positive culture in which all health and care staff feel empowered to support and participate in clinical research as part of their job.
  2. Patient-centred research: to make access and participation in research as easy as possible for everyone across the UK, including rural, diverse and under-served populations.
  3. Streamlined, efficient and innovative research: so the UK is seen as the best place in the world to conduct fast, efficient and cutting-edge clinical research.
  4. Research enabled by data and digital tools: to ensure the UK has the most advanced and data-enabled clinical research environment in the world, building on our unique data assets to improve health and care.
  5. A sustainable and supported research workforce: which offers rewarding opportunities and exciting careers for all healthcare and research staff of all professional backgrounds – across both commercial and non-commercial research.

To deliver these aims, several priority areas have been identified, such as improving the speed and efficiency of setting up studies, building upon digital platforms to deliver clinical research, and making research more diverse and more relevant to the whole UK. This will break down traditional barriers and deliver a patient-centred and pro-innovation clinical research environment.

Launch of the UK-wide vision is to be followed by implementation plans and strategies setting out how the UK government and devolved administrations will begin to deliver the vision during 2021 to 2022.

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