What does the future for clinical research delivery hold in the UK? 7 Jul 2021
In March 2021, the government published its document Saving and Improving lives: The Future of Clinical Research Delivery. The paper laid out an ambitious vision for a more patient-centred, pro-innovation and data-enabled clinical research environment in the UK. At the heart of the strategy is democratising participation in research for both healthcare workers and the public. The context of the initiative is to cement the UK’s position as a leading location for commercial and non-commercial organisations alike to conduct efficient and innovative research to bring new medicines to patients faster.
In June, the first phase implementation plan for this vision was published, following development as part of the UK Recovery, Resilience and Growth Programme.
It has been clear that the UK’s already robust research foundation has been instrumental in our response to the pandemic- from platform trials like RECOVERY to our role in developing and manufacturing vaccines. However, the pandemic has also highlighted the areas where we can improve further to support our recovery and make new advances to benefit research.
The plan encompasses seven key actions:
- Improving the speed and efficiency of study set-up
- Building upon digital platforms to deliver clinical research
- Increasing the use of innovative research designs
- Aligning research programmes and processes with the needs of the UK health and care systems
- Improving visibility and making research matter to the NHS
- Making research more diverse and more relevant to the whole of the UK
- Strengthening public, patient, and service user involvement in research.
A significant £64 million investment underpins the strategy, and the government advises that a suite of activities will follow over the coming months. These include developing and trialling new COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, promoting key initiatives including rapid research ethics review and expanding clinical research capacity. Notably, one of the expansion areas includes increasing the number of virtual and remote trials that have grown significantly over recent years. There is also a drive to improve diversity with schemes that support communities traditionally under-represented in research. The latter will be an essential step in tackling prevailing health inequalities.
Partners in the delivery of the programme include the UK health departments, the Office for Life Sciences, NIHR, MHRA and the ABPI.
This plan is just the beginning. Once delivery of Phase 1 is underway, the government intends to develop new strategies to complement the critical action areas highlighted above, considering recent scientific advances and the broader clinical research environment.
One of the key themes of this strategy is the importance of public and private collaborations that have strengthened throughout the crisis between academia, NHS, regulators, and commercial entities. We will reflect on this area in more detail in our next webinar “The role of public/ private collaborations to further biopharma and medical devices innovation.” To learn more about the event and register to join us click on the event title below.