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New voluntary scheme for GPs to speed up commercial study set-up

GP in consultation with patient

Published: 27 November 2023

A UK-wide scheme is now enabling general practices (GPs) to help set-up commercial studies faster. This is part of the UK’s National Contract Value Review (NCVR) process, and over 30 practices have already signed up.

The NCVR process is the UK’s national approach to costing and contracting for commercial contract research. It is a UK wide programme led by NHS England in partnership with DHSC, NIHR Clinical Research Network, the Health Research Authority and the devolved administrations.

NCVR improves the speed, efficiency and consistency of research costing and contracting activities. This streamlined approach creates more opportunities for patients to access cutting-edge treatments. It also bolsters the UK’s position as an attractive place for health and care research.

NCVR has already reduced commercial study set up times by a third.

Opening trials quicker in primary care

The new voluntary scheme for GPs will help to extend these benefits across primary care.

By signing-up, GPs are agreeing that no further negotiation will take place on any commercial contract study. This means accepting the prices generated by the UK-wide interactive Costing Tool (iCT) for each General Practice.

This will take the burden of costing and contract negotiation away from general practices. In doing so, it will enable practice staff to focus on opening the trial to their patients quicker.

The first practice to sign up to NCVR in primary care was the University of Nottingham Health Service.

Dr Simon Royal who runs the research team at the practice and is the NIHR Primary Care National Specialty Lead says:

‘“NCVR enables our practice to benefit from the knowledge and experience of NHS costing experts, ensuring we get appropriately remunerated and freeing up our time to focus on other aspects of our work.  We think this will benefit our participants and our patients  and make us more efficient in the study start-up process.  

“I also think it has potential to bring more clinical research to the UK and, since it offers a level playing field, I hope it will help us bring studies to communities and populations that would not normally benefit from such opportunities.”

Research active GP perspective

Dr Sam Davies is a GP Partner at West Walk Surgery in Bristol. He has been a Principal Investigator for 30+ studies for South Gloucestershire Medical Research Unit. He has extensive experience of contract and budget negotiation with over 20 different sponsors. He says:

“The contracts and costings process during the setup of research studies in general practice is often challenging, time-consuming, and has the potential to create conflict at an early stage of a new collaboration between site and sponsor.  

“The NCVR represents a fantastic opportunity for primary care to take advantage of nationally negotiated terms.  It should free up site time and expedite study setup, contributing to efficient recruitment and improved relationships, whilst ensuring our work is appropriately remunerated.”

Confidence in full cost recovery

All commercially-sponsored research that takes place in the NHS operates on a full cost recovery basis. The iCT is used to apply standardised pricing to the study activities. It incorporates specific considerations of commercial trials taking place in general practice.  Increasingly, GP practices are becoming research sites in their own right and NCVR supports this significant development.

Supporting commercial sponsor’s site selection decisions

 As independent contractors, GP Practices are not required to adhere to the NCVR process.

However, many have already opted to commit to NCVR and single negotiations. The introduction of this scheme means that those GPs are now listed on the NIHR website as holding a no-negotiation position. Commercial sponsors of research can view the list to support site selection decisions for future trials.

Dr Angela Parker, Chief Operating Officer, Fylde Coast Clinical Research, Layton Medical Centre in Blackpool siad:

“Having recently completed a study costing following NCVR Phase II implementation, I was able to work at pace in partnership with the CRO and complete the review. I look forward to working with all key stakeholders to ensure that we work towards 100% sign up across commercially active sites within primary care.”

Unlocking the research potential of primary care

In his review,  Lord O’Shaughnessy identified potential within primary care to deliver more research for patients. The expansion of NCVR into primary care is a positive step towards this goal. 

Further information on how the National Contract Value Review works is available on the NIHR website and signing up is straight forward.

The NCVR is part of the programme Saving and Improving Lives: The Future of UK Clinical Research Delivery.

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