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who makes sure NHS research capacity is focused on the most important studies and how?

Over the last few weeks, there have been numerous announcements about research into COVID-19: drugs, diagnostics, vaccines and beyond. But who ensures that the capacity of the NHS and broader health and care system is focused on the most important studies?

This background briefing from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) explained how the most urgent research is prioritised in terms of both funding and access to finite NHS resources.

It was explained how – through an innovative partnership between the public sector, academia and industry – promising therapies are accelerated through phase 2 and 3 clinical trials. And how studies that have been approved by this process receive priority access to the NHS via the NIHR’s Clinical Research Network – the main gateway for support and delivery of NHS-facing research.

Journalists dialled in to this virtual briefing to ask questions and to hear from panellists about issues such as:

– How the UK’s urgent COVID-19 research is being prioritised and delivered

– The criteria studies must meet to be categorised as urgent

– How ‘adaptive’ platform studies allow for a rolling series of treatments to be introduced and tested at different times but all under the same master protocol

– How evidence can be translated into routine clinical practice on a rolling basis

– Whether the proportion of patients being enrolled in research is sufficient to deliver the results we need


Speakers included:

Prof Nick Lemoine, Medical Director of the NIHR’s Clinical Research Network. As chair of the Urgent Public Health Group

Prof David Heymann, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

James Brook, Head of Clinical Research UK and Ireland – IQVIA

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