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NIHR Patient Recruitment Centres exceed targets for set-up and recruitment to studies

Published: 31 August 2023

New data from the NIHR shows that the national Patient Recruitment Centres (PRCs) exceed their study set-up and recruitment ambitions for commercial studies.

The latest report from the financial year 2022/23 revealed that the PRCs initiated commercial studies in a median of 42.5 days, (against a target of 52 days). And that 85% of the commercial studies they supported achieved their recruitment targets within planned timescales (against a target of 80%).

John Sitzia, Acting Chief Executive Officer at the NIHR Clinical Research Network said:

“The NIHR PRCs have achieved a number of successes for the life sciences organisations that they have worked with in the last financial year. This is welcome news following the Lord O’Shaughnessy review and ahead of the government's full response to the recommendations which is expected in the autumn. The PRCs' performance figures speak for themselves; they are achieving what they were set up to do - to make it easier and quicker to deliver commercial research in the NHS in England.”

The PRCs are five collaborating sites that are 100% dedicated to delivering research funded by the life sciences industry. Established to increase the UK’s capacity to deliver commercial clinical research. Whilst also increasing opportunities for patients to access early innovation.

Life science organisations that have benefited from working with the PRCs to date include NovoNordisk, Moderna and ICON to name a few.

The data, from April 2022 to March 2023, illustrates that PRCs are initiating studies faster than the national median for commercial studies. As well as exceeding their target and achieving 85% ‘Recruitment to Time and Target’.

Recruitment to Time and Target’ is a strict measure. The study must recruit 100% of the target number of participants within the planned recruitment period. One patient below target, or one day over the recruitment period results in a fail.

The site initiation figure is measured as time from the date a site is selected to the date the site is confirmed.

Key to the success of the PRCs' ability to initiate sites quickly is their collaborative operating model. The PRCs have one costing negotiation for all five sites.

PRC: Blackpool Clinical Director, Dr Gavin Galasko said:

“Our PRCs continue to demonstrate their expertise in delivering high-throughput late phase commercial research in the UK. This year we have run a range of studies collaboratively across many therapeutic areas ; vaccine, cardiovascular and diabetes studies among others with excellent industry and participant feedback and with a number of UK firsts. We are delivering what we originally set out to do, and we are looking forward to building on these successes. We continue to expand our portfolios and innovate in our delivery of clinical trials, to enhance our offer to life science companies and patients alike. “

Feedback from participant experience was also very positive. From 569 respondents 97% of participants said they would consider taking part in research again. The PRCs aim to prioritise the patient experience throughout their research journey. Responses like this show the PRCs' commitment to achieving this aim:

“All the staff were very professional and couldn’t have been nicer. They explain all of the procedures with courtesy and respect and are very helpful.” - Research participant, PRC: Blackpool

In the past year the PRCs have achieved a number of standout successes, for example:

The PRCs are one of the Sector Deal 2 commitments contributing to the government’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy. The Strategy set out a series of measures to strengthen the UK environment for clinical research and enable growth within the sector. They also feature in the policy paper - Saving lives: The Future of UK Clinical Research Delivery and related implementation plans.

For more information visit the PRC webpage.

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