Clinical Research ‘Health Check’ Tool for Trusts Introduced by NIHR

The National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network (NIHR CRN) are introducing a new device to show National Health Service (NHS) Trusts in England how well they are delivering across different therapy areas on their responsibility to encourage clinical research trials.

The initiative is part of a wider ‘push’ tactic to increase the profile of clinical research performance in Trusts and inspire a more dynamic research culture in the NHS generally.

The device will be unveiled at the NHS Confederation Annual Conference in Manchester on 20-22 June this year, where NHS Trust chief executive officers will be presented with a clinical research ‘health-check’ to identify information such as the number of research trials the health trust participated in over the previous year, how many patients they enlisted, and the amount of research that is taking place across a array of medical conditions.

The NHS Constitution enforces a responsibility on all Trusts to encourage chances for patients to participate in clinical research studies. The NIHR CRN has been assembling study-delivery statistics for a while now for their Clinical Research Network Portfolio, which registers every trial delivered by the Network in the NHS, in addition to patient-recruitment statistics for the studies.

Previously, the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network did not posses a tool to drill down the data into therapy areas and show it in a way that would make it apparent to Trusts where their comparative strengths and weaknesses are in terms of delivering enlistment opportunities, the Network commented.

“The work we have just done to create the tool was an attempt to exploit the intelligence we collect, and share it with Trusts so they can act on it,” noted Louise Wood, communications director for the NIHR CRN.

“So if a Trust is doing 50 studies, but they are all in cancer, we want people (Trust management, clinicians and patients) to have sight of that, and be able to question it,” Wood added.

While clinical research should in an ideal world be a fundamental business priority across all therapy areas in the NHS, “in reality there is a mixed picture”, observed Dr Jonathan Sheffield, chief executive officer of the NIHR Clinical Research Network.

“We know that cancer patients stand a very good opportunity of being offered a place in a clinical study, but it can be more patchy in other areas of medicine,” he noted.

“By showing each NHS Trust a snapshot of their research activity, split by disease area, we can help them to understand where they might want to develop their research offer to patients,” Sheffield concluded.


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