England’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) has managed to reduce significantly the time it takes for studies funded by non-commercial organisations to be included in the NIHR research Portfolio.

Following a network-wide service improvement drive, an average 96% of potentially eligible studies funded by non-commercial organisations, such as charities or academic institutions, received an eligibility decision from NIHR within 37 days during the first two quarters of 2013/14, compared with 29% in the 2011/12 financial year overall.

The median time for potentially eligible non-commercial studies to receive an eligibility decision during the second quarter of 2013/14 was 11 days versus a median of 61 days in 2011/12, the Network reported.

Adoption SOP

Key players from across the Network started work in September 2011 on developing a more harmonised, efficient and effective non-commercial eligibility and adoption process for NIHR CRN.

A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for eligibility and adoption was subsequently published in April 2012. NIHR CRN will conduct a final evaluation of the new process before the end of the year and publish the results in January 2014.

The improved timelines were welcomed by Sharmila Nebhrajani, chief executive of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC).

“Research charities want more trials to start more quickly,” Nebhrajani commented. “It's good for research and it's what patients tell us they want.”

AMRC urged the NIHR “to continue its work to make the whole process more agile”.