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National Patient Recruitment Centres

The NIHR National Patient Recruitment Centres (NPRCs) are dedicated to setting up and delivering late phase commercial clinical trials in the NHS at pace and scale.

All five Centres work collaboratively through an innovative, national ‘franchise-like’ model to realise benefits and results for the life sciences industry.

These new recruitment engines, becoming operational in 2020, will make it easier and quicker to deliver commercial research in the UK.

The five National Patient Recruitment Centres (NPRCs), which have been established in the National Health Service (NHS), are purpose-designed to increase the UK’s capacity to deliver late-phase commercial clinical research.

They bring to life one of the Sector Deal 2 commitments contributing to the Government’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy which sets out a series of measures to strengthen the UK’s clinical research environment and improve the UK’s competitiveness in the global market. It also seeks to ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of medical science and the development of innovative new treatments.

The NPRCs unique franchise-like operational model has been created to improve the speed and consistency with which commercial research is delivered, and also to provide an ideal test bed for future innovation in clinical research delivery. The NPRCs will also increase opportunities for patients to benefit from early access to innovation by making the UK an even more attractive place to deliver cutting-edge commercial clinical research.

The five new National Patient Recruitment Centres will be based within the following NHS trusts:

  • Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust
  • The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Our five National Patient Recruitment Centres (NPRCs) utilise a collaborative franchise-like model to make it easier and quicker to deliver commercial research in the NHS. Our remarkable team ethos enables all five Centres to work in a harmonised manner and use shared processes to provide:

  • A single point of contact for all five Centres
  • Streamlined and standardised costing, contracting and R&D approval across all five Centres; specifically requiring one negotiation and a single sign off
  • A national approach to delivery with all five Centres operating in an identical manner using shared operating procedures
  • The same level of dedicated facilities and staff at all five locations
  • Guaranteed access to NHS services to support recruitment and delivery of late-phase commercial research - specifically pharmacy, radiology and pathology services, among others
  • An ethos of continuous improvement enabling the adoption and dissemination of innovation in research delivery.

 Find out more about our new, standardised, national approach to costing and contracting for commercial contract research.


Our National Patient Recruitment Centres (NPRCs) are geographically distributed throughout England and offer wide coverage of the country in terms of recruitment reach. This compliments and builds upon national CRN infrastructure and represents a unique opportunity for life sciences companies. Through our feasibility processes, you can explore how we can help to match your clinical trials to clinical need across England, thereby boosting both recruitment and retention.

You will also discover that each Centre has unique selling points that contribute to their ability to act as recruitment engines. Each location offers a variety of opportunities to access different patient populations and areas of disease prevalence. This is facilitated through partnerships and collaborations across the health sector in each region. These connections, which include primary, secondary and community care organisations, extend each Centre’s recruitment reach far beyond the catchment area of the NHS trusts where the Centres are located.


This unique recruitment reach is then combined with forward-thinking recruitment strategies to deliver results to time and target.

Our proactive and inclusive approach to recruitment does not rely on the right patient walking into the right clinic, at the right time. Instead we reach out into the local community and empower patients to volunteer for research. We use health-related campaigns to drive enrollment to our rapidly expanding “consent to be contacted” research registers. So in addition to the usual recruitment methods, expect a multiple-modality approach to recruitment including social media, local press and radio, and adverts on pharmacy shelves raising awareness of research participation opportunities.

By adopting this approach our NPRCs have the ability to reach beyond the hospital’s specialist clinics and offer research opportunities to patients with conditions that are often managed in the community by their GP or pharmacist. Think asthma, think IBS (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), think episodic headaches - to name just a few common chronic conditions now managed predominantly in primary care in the UK.

Add to this our unparalleled access to NHS data. Whether it's sense checking study feasibility, or analysing electronic health records to identify and invite suitable participants, we work with our partners across the region to optimise the opportunities that access to NHS data presents.


All five Centres were selected in open national competition. Each Centre was required to evidence a proven track record of delivering late-phase commercial research to time and target at scale that is at or above the 2018/19 published national average of 69%.

We are all about continuous improvement in the National Patient Recruitment Centres (NPRCs). Our franchise model is designed to support and disseminate innovation in commercial research delivery, across all five Centres, to improve quality and efficiency.

So as well as adopting innovative recruitment strategies (see reach and reliability), we’ll also be adopting innovative functionality, best practice, and best-in-class commercial business processes wherever possible.

For example, implementing a ‘digital first’ approach is high on our list of priorities and, from launch in 2020, we will be working towards providing a consistent digital platform to support delivery of all studies across all five Centres. We’ll also be undertaking and managing future configuration work to support new process models, work flows and organisational changes as required.

As a result, we offer an excellent customer experience to life sciences companies placing studies in the Centres. As a customer you will benefit from working with a dedicated team, with an abundance of our commercial expertise and experience, that is 100% focused on delivering commercial research.

We also offer a personalised, concierge-style service to your participants throughout their research journey which includes a patient tracking and booking system. We will always ensure that our Centres are accessible through appropriate hours of operation to maximise engagement with patients irrespective of their working hours, mobility, and more.

The National Patient Recruitment Centres specialise in the delivery of late phase commercial research (PIII/IV) that require the recruitment of large cohorts of participants (typically 100 or more).

The Patient Recruitment Centres also have a strong focus on research involving participants with  common chronic illnesses and conditions (for example asthma, IBS, heart disease, respiratory diseases and diabetes). These patients can be more difficult to engage in clinical research because their conditions are often self-managed or managed with support from professionals in primary, community, social and other non-traditional care settings.

One of the strengths of the NIHR PRCs is their ability to reach out into communities, beyond the hospital specialist clinic, to engage patients with these common chronic conditions. They do this by collectively collaborating with other NHS organisations and social care providers in their region e.g. GP practices, pharmacies, and care homes, to enable access to a wider cohort of patients.

Individual Centres also have expertise to support late phase commercial research in particular  therapeutic areas (dementia, dermatology, gastroenterology, ophthalmology), enabling them to  deliver smaller scale clinical trials at pace.


Life science companies

If you are a life science company looking to run a study you can contact the National Patient Recruitment Centre Programme Office by email:

Patients, members of the public and health care professionals

Please use the details below to contact your nearest National Patient Recruitment Centre (NPRC):

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