Clinical research

NIHR set for research revamp in 2024

The National Institute for Health and Care Research’s (NIHR) Clinical Research Networks are set to be renamed to better reflect their scope and purpose, as the organisation looks to improve the way in which they deliver cutting-edge research.

From April 2024, the regional research networks will be referred to as NIHR Research Delivery Networks (RDN) and will continue to deliver the same potent and efficient research across England to the benefit of patients everywhere in the NHS.

The networks will support general clinical trials, well thought-out health and social care studies, and public health studies that require the recruitment of NHS patients.

NIHR Chief Executive, Professor Lucy Chappell, said: “The National Institute for Health and Care Research Clinical Research Network proved itself as a national asset during Covid-19. Its benefits were evident in the way the health system was able to respond so quickly and effectively to deliver the research for new treatments and vaccines to tackle the pandemic.

“The need for a national research delivery network is therefore more important than ever to ensure nationwide collaboration and remain responsive to the needs of the health and care system.”

The entirety of England will be supported via 12 delivery networks which will work in conjunction with the national Coordinating Centre to establish a collaborative RDN leadership function so the regional networks can work as one and execute a shared vision up and down the country.

Organisations that want to host a Regional Research Delivery Network (RRDN) leadership team are being invited to submit an expression of interest to become a RRDN Host Organisation.

Such organisations will have three key jobs:

  • Provide sites the support they need to deliver effective and efficient research across the healthcare system in England.
  • Support the development of better research, including improving research capability, expanding research capacity, and addressing health inequalities by bringing research to under-represented communities.
  • Work in tandem with the national Coordinating Centre in the strategic oversight of the networks.

Professor Lucy Chappell added: “This new competition for the National Institute for Health and Care Research Regional Research Delivery Networks provides us with the opportunity to further strengthen our national research and development delivery system, and enables even greater alignment with NHS infrastructure and the Integrated Care Systems.

“The new Research Delivery Network aims to support NHS teams delivering research across the health and care system, and to strengthen the partnership with the national Coordinating Centre and the Department of Health and Social Care to provide increased regional involvement and perspectives in national decision-making.

“It is essential that we have a means of ensuring that research can be delivered equitably to all, to address geographical and other health disparities. Research is core to improving health and social care, and should be available and accessible across the country.”

Integrated Care Boards, NHS trusts, primary care organisations, and others providing services to the NHS are now able to submit an application to host a RRDN – those interested need to complete a short, non-binding form before midnight on the 3rd of October 2022.

More information about the new research network is available here.

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