The national cancer network and its counterparts for several other high-profile conditions have transformed recruitment into clinical trials, the government’s senior health research and development officer told a conference organised by the Council Heads for Medical Schools.

Professor Sally Davies, director of research at the Department of Health, said that their success had led to the creation of a new “comprehensive network” to cover all conditions not currently covered. She is expecting the strategic health authorities to sign-off arrangements for this new network this month.

The cancer network had doubled the number of recruits to clinical trials in two years, compared to a target of three years, she said.

Professor Davies added that industry-sponsored studies are now working with the networks, a reflection of the desire across government health R&D to support industry.