The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network has decreased the time it takes for studies funded by non-commercial organizations, such as charitable organizations and academic institutions, to be included in the NIHR Portfolio of research.
Following a network-wide service improvement drive, on average 96% of potentially eligible studies in the U.K. received an eligibility decision within 37 days in the first two quarters of 2013-14, compared to 29% in 2011-12.
The NIHR is the research delivery arm of the NHS. It provides specialist research support in the form of people and facilities needed to carry out research in the NHS2. On average 1,358 new studies are added to the Portfolio each year. Since April 2008, the Network has supported more than 6,700 studies in the NHS across all therapy areas.
For a research study to gain access to Clinical Research Network support, it first needs to be confirmed as eligible before it can be included in the NIHR Portfolio. This important first step contributes to overall study set-up times, which are a key performance indicator in clinical research delivery.
Sharmila Nebhrajani, chief executive of the Association of Medical Research Charities, said, "Research charities want more trials to start more quickly. It's good for research and it's what patients tell us they want. This improvement to the speed of approval is very welcome and we urge the NIHR to continue its work to make the whole process more agile."
Dr. Jonathan Sheffield, CEO of the Clinical Research Network, said, “Ultimately, what this means is that we are seeing a reduction in the time that it takes for research to get off the ground. The sooner we get research studies underway, the sooner we can analyze the results, and the sooner patients will benefit from new and better treatments in the NHS.”
The project launched in September 2011. The outcome was the publication of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in April 2012. Standardization has had a significant impact.
A final evaluation of the new process will be taken before the end of the year and results will be published in January 2014.