Key stats: Commercial research in the NHS

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We recruited nearly 35,000 participants to commercial contract research studies

Annual data provided by our NHS research delivery arm, the Clinical Research Network, demonstrates that clinical research in the UK is thriving and the NHS is open for business. 

Achievements in the the financial year 2015/16 include:

Our key statistics show that commercial research in the National Health Service (NHS) in England is going from strength to strength.

Volume and growth

  • A significant increase in new studies sponsored by the life sciences industry. 650 new commercial contract studies – this equates to a 67 per cent increase over the last five years (2011/12: 388 new commercial studies)
  • Nearly 35,000 participants were recruited to commercial contract research studies
  • An accumulative total of 132,677 participants recruited into commercial contract research over the last five years
  • The NIHR Clinical Research Network worked with 73 Contract Research Organisations last year - a 14 per cent increase on the previous year
  • The NIHR Clinical Research Network signed Confidentiality Disclosure Agreements with 73 companies last year, bringing the total since April 2006 to 736 companies

We achieved 16 first global patients and 13 first European patients

Improvements in research delivery have made the UK a globally competitive destination for clinical research.

Globally competitive

  • The median number of days to achieve NHS investigator site set-up for commercial contract research remained at 20 days for second year in a row
  • 65 per cent of commercial contract studies (273 studies) achieved 100 percent of their recruitment target within the planned deadline. This compares to just 21 per cent in 2010/11
  • The percentage of non-recruiting sites is now 12.7 per cent for commercial contract research
  • We achieved 16 first global patients and 13 first european patients

74% of NHS trusts recruited patients to participate in commercial contract research

Over 74 per cent of NHS trusts supporting patient opportunities to participate in commercial contract research

A research active national health service

  • Over 74 per cent of NHS trusts supporting patient opportunities to participate in commercial contract research (100 per cent for commercial and non commercial research combined)
  • 42 per cent of General Medical Practices now clinical research active in commercial/non-commercial research
  • View the latest NHS trust research activity league table

We achieved 16 first global patients and 13 first European patients

The NIHR offers a number of different opportunities to collaborate and work in partnership.

Infrastructure partnerships and collaborations

NOCRI (NIHR Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure) helped create:

  • 1378 collaborations with SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises)
  • 576 partnerships with the life sciences industry
  • Resulting in £149.7m funding through industry collaborations and contracts

Our NIHR-supported infrastructure helped achieve 94 licences

Last year the NIHR-supported infrastructure helped to achieve 94 licences.

NIHR-supported research facilities

In 2015/16, the NIHR-supported infrastructure received £1.15bn of funding from all sources, resulting in:

  • 10,169 publications
  • 94 licences
  • 5 registrable and 62 non-registrable IP products
  • 15 spin-outs


Impact and value

An independent report, commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network and produced by KPMG’s Economics team, provides an assessment of the economic impact of the NIHR Clinical Research Network’s activities to support clinical research in the UK. The report includes assessment of the economic contribution made to the UK economy through clinical research activity supported by the network; analysis to quantify the value of payments made to NHS Trusts for commercial studies, and the value to the NHS of pharmaceuticals used as part of industry-sponsored studies.

Read the full report.

Download a infographic summarising the findings.

More on performance

Further information, including the full NIHR Clinical Research Network Annual Performance Report, can be found on the NIHR Clinical Research Network key statistics page.

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