NHS England announces plans to break down barriers for research

NHS England has today announced plans to accelerate the NHS’ national research strategy, cutting bureaucracy and speeding up access to new and innovative treatments.

Speaking at the Economist War on Cancer event today, NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens will tell delegates that the NHS is already one of the best places in the world to undertake health research but it is clear that more needs to be done to make it easier to get projects underway.

He will announce that proposals to streamline and standardise the process of setting up trials across multiple sites, needed to develop treatments for rare cancers and other complex conditions, and claiming back excess treatment costs that can be a barrier to innovation will be considered by the NHS England Board next week.

Simon Stevens will say: “The NHS has an outstanding track record in cancer research, as demonstrated by the number of innovations that have come from this country. We are also responsible for developing and trialling the latest drug in use worldwide for men with advanced prostate cancer and the UK is one of seven countries trialling new radiotherapy technology.”

We will be seeking views on how we can remove the long-standing frustrations, so we can all invest more time and resource in the war on cancer and other diseases – a simpler, more streamlined process is better for industry and researchers, but most importantly better for patients.

At present, in studies taking place across more than one hospital, all sites must agree their own terms with researchers. NHS England plans to remove this condition and introduce a standardised set of terms and conditions.

Another common obstacle to research is management of Excess Treatment Costs which often arise from conducting research in the NHS. Treatment costs are covered by industry when undertaking commercial research, but it is the NHS’ responsibility to cover costs where research is funded by charities and the Government.

NHS England will propose suggested changes to the processes associated with this – simplifying the process for specialist services and linking the wider process with the effective research networks that exist across England.

The main goal of the consultation will be to simplify and standardise as much of the process as possible, to streamline the process for getting research projects up and running.