The UK’s Department of Health has announced the 15 National Health Service Trusts and Foundation Trusts across England that will host local branches of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network from April 2014.

The NIHR CRN is the clinical-research delivery arm for the National Health Service in England. It operates through a national co-ordinating centre and local branches, providing funds to hospitals and surgeries to pay for research nurses, scans, x-rays and other costs associated with clinical research in the NHS. 

Since April 2013, though, the Network has been pursuing a selection process to identify 15 local ‘host’ organisations for the NIHR CRN, as part of a programme aimed at simplifying its administrative arrangements while strengthening the infrastructure for clinical studies across England.

Starting on 1 April 2014, the 15 hosts will be awarded five year contracts by the Department of Health to act as local branches for the NIHR Clinical Research Network. 

They will take responsibility for executing the Network’s remit at local level while distributing, collectively, £280 million of NIHR funding per year to support the delivery of clinical research studies in their area. 

The selection process was completed in July 2013. The 15 Trusts/Foundation Trusts now appointed as local hosts are:

  • Barts Health NHS Trust (host for the Clinical Research Network in the North Thames area).                                                         
  • Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Greater Manchester).                                                         
  • Guys’ and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust (South London).
  • Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (North West London).
  • Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Eastern England).
  • Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust (Thames Valley and South Midlands).
  • Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (South West Peninsula).
  • Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (North West Coast).
  • Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (Kent, Surrey and Sussex).
  • Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Yorkshire and Humber).
  • The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (North East and North Cumbria).
  • The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (West Midlands).
  • University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (Wessex).
  • University Hospitals Bristol Foundation Trust (West of England).
  • University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (East Midlands).

So much more

According to Dr Jonathan Sheffield, chief executive of the NIHR Clinical Research Network, the new host organisations are “so much more” than just local administrative branches for the Network.

“They will help to set the level of ambition for clinical research delivery on their patch, and assist us in making sure that clinical research occupies the place it deserves in the day-to-day work of the NHS across the country,” Sheffield explained.

The host-selection process set out to identify Trusts that were “passionate about the contribution that clinical research can make to patient care”, and which would work collaboratively with other NHS providers to “translate that passion into the effective delivery of studies across the whole area”, Sheffield noted. 

He described the 15 selected hosts as “truly outstanding” in their commitment to clinical research.