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Deliver research beyond the hospital clinic

On this page you will discover how we help commercial life science organisations to plan and deliver clinical research beyond hospital clinics.

Access a wider patient population

In the UK, only the patients with the most severe illness are treated in hospitals. Companies seeking to conduct research into common and chronic conditions will need to look beyond the hospital clinic to access the wider patient population. 

We offer comprehensive support for commercial companies looking to deliver health and social care research in many diverse settings across the UK.

There are opportunities to deliver research within General Practices (GPs), pharmacies, care homes, hospices, ambulance services, schools, opticians and other community-based providers. We can also support you to deliver research in non-community settings such as prisons.

Delivering research in these settings means you can access large, diverse and often underserved patient populations. You can also access patients who are at different stages of their disease progression, such as at the point of diagnosis or those who are self-managing long-term conditions.

Plan and deliver research in care homes

For research focused on long-term chronic conditions in adults and older patients, care homes offer a diverse landscape. With more than 11,000 care homes in the UK and approximately 410,000 residents (2017 CMA Care Homes Market Study data), this setting provides a diverse cross-section of the older adult population.

The EnRICH initiative, co-funded by NIHR, supports researchers to engage with care home residents, ensuring equitable access to health research. There are currently more than 850 research-ready care homes registered with ENRICH and this continues to increase.

We can help you to plan and deliver your research in care homes. Our national and local teams can assist with all aspects of study delivery from feasibility, through to site identification, study set-up, and monitoring progress.

Plan and deliver research in General Practices

General Practitioners (GPs) are often the first point of contact for healthcare delivery in the UK and many conditions are routinely diagnosed and managed in primary care. More than 1 million people will attend a GP appointment on an average day in the National Health Service (NHS).

This makes general practice an ideal setting for research and offers unique opportunities and benefits. For example, general practices are usually smaller, agile organisations that can set studies up quickly. GPs have established relationships with patients; they know which trials are relevant to them, which is often reflected in higher than average retention rates.

Life science companies can speak to our NIHR Industry team to explore the opportunities available for delivering research in general practices. We can also connect you with primary care clinical experts to consult on the deliverability of your protocol.

In addition to this, the NIHR also supports GPs to deliver research. We provide mechanisms for them to learn about upcoming research and express their interest in becoming investigators. We have data on which GPs are research-ready and, through our site identification service, we can help you to find and select the optimal sites to meet your specific study needs.

If you need to deliver a large scale study, we can also help you to explore opportunities to engage ‘hub and spoke’ and PIC (Patient Identification Centres) recruitment models in primary care to extend the recruitment reach of your sites.

The number of GPs leading and supporting commercial research in the UK is increasing year-on-year, with more than 44% currently research active.

Fast and predictable costing and contracting for commercial contract research in primary care

We have established a voluntary scheme for GPs to speed up commercial study set-up in primary care. GPs can commit to the UK’s National Contract Value Review(NCVR) process - the UK’s national approach to costing and contracting for commercial contract research. These practices will accept nationally generated prices and without further local negotiation.

Commercial sponsors can now consult the list of GPs (General Practice) accepting NCVR prices when making their site selection decisions. This list is accessed via the >NCVR Primary Care dashboard.

Plan and deliver research in community pharmacies

There are around 11,500 active community pharmacies in England, according to data from the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA). Community pharmacies often offer convenient opening hours, out-of-hours support, access at weekends, and do not require appointments. This makes them an ideal research setting for researchers wanting to prioritise patient experience or access underserved communities.

Community pharmacies also provide access to patient populations at a different, and often very early, stage of their illness or condition (compared to access through a GP or secondary care). In addition, people with long-term conditions often see their pharmacist more frequently than they see their GP, for instance when collecting repeat prescriptions.

We can help you to plan and deliver research in community pharmacies. We have Community Pharmacy Research Champions based in our regional networks who can help researchers to access the research-ready pharmacies in their area. Our national and local teams can also assist with all aspects of study delivery from feasibility through to site identification, study set-up, and monitoring progress.

Plan and deliver research in other settings

Our research delivery support is not limited to health and care settings, we have also developed the capability to support research in other settings such as prisons and people’s homes.

Our Local Clinical Research Networks are transforming the way they support research delivery by developing new, flexible ways of working and adaptable models for deploying research delivery support.

Our Direct Delivery Teams are not tied to a specific site or therapeutic area. Instead, the research workforce responds to local research delivery needs as they emerge. These adaptable teams comprise of highly skilled and experienced, forward-thinking professionals who are committed to innovating and path-finding non-traditional approaches to research delivery that can span organisations, care settings, medical specialties and even geographies.

These specialist teams can be engaged to support remote aspects of decentralised and hybrid trials which take place beyond the hospital clinic. They can help bring your research to the people.

Further information

Visit our NIHR support for the life sciences industry page to discover the wide range of support available, or talk to our dedicated Industry team to learn more about the support described here.

Contact the Industry team

Research in primary care 

Read: Dr Rebecca Clark is a trailblazer when it comes to delivering commercial research in primary care. She has delivered over 50 clinical trials at her GP practice in Blackpool.

Browse more case studies and videos

This collection of case studies and videos demonstrates how community settings in the UK offer unique opportunities for delivering health and social care research.