The NHS has introduced new processes to fast track research and improve access to cutting-edge therapies for patients by reducing the bureaucracy surrounding clinical trials.
This bureaucracy has often been a barrier to getting hospitals to sign-up to multi-centre trials. The government has already created the Health Research Authority (HRA) as a single port of call for ethical approval to try to alleviate this issue, but internal NHS bureaucracy can make setting up large trials an onerous and costly process.
The government is putting in place processes to try to reduce bureaucracy in order to attract more R&D investment from big pharma, which will become increasingly important to the economy as the country severs its ties with Europe and its vast research base. Fast track clinical trials will also benefit patients by enabling early access to new drugs for diseases such as cancer and dementia.
NHS England is working with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the HRA, and NHS Improvement to standardise clinical trial processes to introduce greater certainty and reduce administrative costs for both NHS providers and commercial sponsors. These new measures will eliminate variation and delays in setting up and reporting commercial contract research.
The new processes are part of a 12-point plan to improve clinical research announced in November by NHS England and the NIHR.