Patients across the UK will benefit from a supercharged clinical research system backed by £175m of dedicated investment, which will save lives across the country.
The UK-wide plan published on Thursday will enable innovative research to be carried out more quickly, helping patients access cutting-edge treatments sooner, speeding up diagnosis and helping to bust the COVID-19 backlogs.
The initiative will:
- Increase the amount of research and the size of the workforce putting the UK at the centre of cutting-edge and global clinical studies
- Improve the quality of research by broadening responsibility and accountability for studies across the NHS
- Ensure studies address the needs and challenges facing the NHS, including improving inclusivity and accessibility
- Take advantage of opportunities outside the EU to reduce regulations allowing for safe, speedy, and flexible research
- Improve participation in research across the UK by investment in digitally-focused trials
This approach will further cement the UK’s position as a world leader in life sciences and the delivery of clinical research, and follows the country’s successful development and rollout out of COVID-19 vaccinations.
The plan – which sets out the second phase of work through 2022 to 2025 to achieve the vision for The Future of UK Clinical Research Delivery – includes £150m of additional funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and £25m funding from other delivery partners in the UK Clinical Research Recovery, Resilience, and Growth Programme.
The second phase will build on work already done, including halving the approval times for new clinical trials.
As a global life sciences superpower, we have led the world on vaccines and antiviral treatments and today’s plan will ensure we continue to be at the forefront of clinical research to save lives and bust the COVID-19 backlog
The £175m investment is on top of up to £200m funding announced earlier this year to strengthen the data infrastructure in the devolved administrations to enable better research and cement the UK’s status as a global life sciences superpower.
The continued investment means clinical trials can take place more quickly with a strengthened workforce and improved technology, helping patients take part virtually, which is already benefiting the whole of the UK, with examples including the delivery of antiviral treatments to protect vulnerable people from COVID.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “We are bolstering clinical research to improve healthcare for patients across the UK by providing our world-leading experts with the tools needed to deliver cutting-edge scientific developments, grow the workforce, and harness digital innovations.
“As a global life sciences superpower, we have led the world on vaccines and antiviral treatments and today’s plan will ensure we continue to be at the forefront of clinical research to save lives and bust the COVID-19 backlog.”
Minister for Technology, Innovation and Life Sciences, Lord Kamall, added: “Our world-leading scientists and clinicians proved time and again during the COVID-19 pandemic they are at the cutting edge of innovation and scientific advancement.
“We will continue to support them by providing the funding, infrastructure and workforce required for state-of-the-art clinical research which ultimately saves lives.
While England is already one of the best places in the world to undertake research, this plan will boost that even further and I am delighted that the NHS continues to play a key role in finding the latest innovative treatments for patients
“By working together we can protect the NHS, slash the backlog, and ensure patients benefit from speedy and safe clinical research.”
Significant strides to bolster research already include:
- Halving the approval times for new clinical trials, enabling them to start faster and innovative new research to be discovered more quickly
- Launching a new UK-wide professional accreditation scheme for clinical research practitioners to help double the size of this important workforce and enable more research to take place
- Providing a £200m investment in health data infrastructure in England to strengthen the data infrastructure in the devolved administrations to enable better research
- Improving the UK’s ability to harness technology and conduct studies virtually and in the community, such as the PANORAMIC trial of antiviral treatments for COVID, and the RELIEVE IBS-D virtual trial designed to help people with IBS-D manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
NHS chief executive, Amanda Pritchard, said: “While England is already one of the best places in the world to undertake research, this plan will boost that even further and I am delighted that the NHS continues to play a key role in finding the latest innovative treatments for patients.
“The NHS is uniquely positioned to assist with quickly making research a reality and the pandemic has highlighted this, including through dexamethasone, which was discovered as an effective treatment for COVID-19 in a clinical trial in the NHS and rolled out at speed – saving over a million lives worldwide.”