Set standards and guidance

We aim to make research faster and easier so that the findings can benefit patients more quickly. We are working with partners including the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Health Research Authority (HRA) to simplify and streamline procedures to improve the initiation and delivery of research

Key steps include: 

  • making NHS providers’ performance in starting and delivering research transparent and accountable, through new NIHR contracts. The Department of Health and Social Care is committed to improving clinical trial performance and reducing site set up and participant recruitment time. As of Quarter 1 2018-19, this will no longer be assessed with a 70 day benchmark for the duration between Date Site Selected and date of First Patient Recruitment. A renewed focus will be placed on transparency, accuracy, and meeting sponsor expectations. Please contact the NIHR CCF Clinical Trial Performance team if you have any questions regarding this by emailing
  • providing support to help the NHS improve its performance, through the NIHR Research Support Services (RSS) Framework. We published our RSS Framework in March 2011, as part of the Government's Plan for Growth. We also published our Framework tools and documents in 2013. The RSS Framework is a set of tools and guidelines to support a consistent and streamlined approach to managing health research studies in the NHS. The RSS Framework can help providers of NHS services meet sponsor expectations for recruiting the first patient to clinical trials and to organise themselves to have the capacity to manage trials from end to end, helping them deliver to time and target
  • working with the HRA to simplify approval processes for ethical research, including implementing an HRA unified approval process for research in the NHS which came into effect in March 2016
  • leadership Support and Development for R&D Managers and Directors through the NIHR Leadership Support and Development programme. The programme encourages the development of pro-active leadership by R&D managers as key contributors to our aims through their vital role in supporting and enabling research in the NHS.