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Life Sciences Sector Deal 2: Competition underway to host five new Patient Recruitment Centres (PRCs)

On 4 October the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) launched the first stage of a competition to establish five new NHS Patient Recruitment Centres which are set to shape the future of commercial clinical trials in the NHS.

The Life Sciences Sector Deal 2, published in December 2018, included a commitment for the CRN to:

“Establish five purpose- designed centres dedicated to late-phase commercial research in 2019/20. Identified through NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) competition, the centres will offer rapid set-up of late-phase commercial research, standardised contracting and delivery approaches where appropriate, and dedicated facilities and staff. They will increase the NHS’s capacity to deliver research, enabling significant growth and opportunities for patients to benefit from early access to innovation.”

Last month NHS organisations were invited to bid to host one of the five Patient Recruitment Centres across England.  Each Centre will operate on a national ‘franchise like’ model, using predefined standard operating procedures and technology to enable a digital first approach to recruitment into clinical trials.  A consistent approach to operations will allow single sign-off in order to facilitate the rapid set-up of studies.

To complete the first stage of the competition NHS organisations are required to demonstrate capacity and capability to host a PRC, including:

  • a suitable physical site for the Centre
  • a strong track record of successful delivery of NIHR CRN commercial portfolio studies
  • adherence to, and implementation of, national policies and processes regarding the set up and conduct of commercial trials, including NIHR guidelines for contracting, conduct and delivery of late-phase commercial research
  • an understanding of the part that geography, patient population and disease burden plays in the feasibility of clinical trials and the identification of suitable research sites
  • partnerships with a range of NHS organisations in the Centre’s region to enable the rapid set up and delivery of late-phase commercial research and provide access to a wider cohort of patients.

The Stage One Questionnaire closed on the 25 October. Successful organisations will receive an Invitation To Tender (ITT) which will close on the 6 December. The five PRCs will be announced in January 2020.