Conducting commercial contract research in the NHS can help the health service's finances to go further by an estimated £192 million, a new report shows.

The independent report, commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network and produced by KPMG's Economics team, provides an assessment of the economic impact of the NIHR Clinical Research Network's activities to support clinical research within the UK.

The report found that undertaking clinical studies that are funded by the life sciences industry provides an additional source of income for the NHS. On average, NHS trusts in England were estimated to receive £6,658 in revenue from life sciences companies for each patient recruited into commercial clinical research studies. This equates to an estimated total of £176 million of income over the year.

In addition, an estimated total of £16 million over 12 months in pharmaceutical cost savings are achieved when life science companies provide drugs free-of-charge to patients in clinical trials. On average, the report estimated that NHS trusts in England benefitted from a pharmaceutical cost saving of £5,250 for each patient recruited into pharmaceutical-based commercial clinical research studies, where a trial drug replaced the standard of care treatment.

The revenue and pharmaceutical cost savings combined equates to an estimated NHS financial benefit of £192 million for the NHS from all commercial research activity supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network during the 12 month period the report looked at.

The report also looks at the wider economic impact of commercial contract research. It estimates that commercial clinical research activity conducted within the NIHR Clinical Research Network infrastructure in the period April 2014 to March 2015 helped to generate a total of £1.6 billion of Gross Value Added and 20,755 jobs.

Dr Matt Cooper, NIHR Clinical Research Network Director for Business Development and Marketing, commented:

"This is great news for UK Plc. It shows the additional value that can be leveraged from the funding of a nationally managed infrastructure which can deliver safe, high quality clinical trials for the benefit of patients and the public. Having a research-active NHS gives better outcomes for patients, and this report helps to understand how it can also save the NHS money and can generate additional funding to reinvest into innovative research."