The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network, which provides more than £284m a year to support the delivery of clinical research studies in the NHS, has reconfigured and will be operating in a new streamlined structure from April 1st, 2014.
Until this point, the Network has comprised 102 overlapping local networks, each supporting clinical research studies in different therapy areas or parts of the service. From April 2014, this has been rationalized into 15 local Clinical Research Networks across England, which will deliver studies across all therapy areas.
The geographical boundaries of the Networks correlate with those of the Academic Health Science Networks, although the remits of the two organisations remain separate.
Dr Jonathan Sheffield, chief executive of the NIHR Clinical Research Network, explained: “The ability to conduct clinical research is hugely important to the future of the NHS because it is the way we gather evidence to improve the quality of care for patients. Over the last year we have seen significant changes in both the NHS environment, and in the nature of research studies. It was important for the Network to evolve, so we can continue to provide the flexible infrastructure the research community needs to conduct clinical studies efficiently in the NHS.”