Joint Research Office


NHS R&D offices deliver faster study set up times during Covid-19 outbreak

20 August 2020

NHS Research and Development offices delivered faster set up times for research during the Covid-19 outbreak, according to a survey of the UK R&D community.

19 research active NHS organisations responded to the survey by UKRD, which brings together R&D leaders across the country, on how offices had fared during the pandemic.

Between March and May 2020, organisations approved fewer studies than they ordinarily would at that point in the year – due to the pausing of the vast majority of non-Covid research and an almost singular focus by R&D offices on Covid-19 research.

But for studies that were approved, there was a reduction overall of 73% in the time required to approve a study. During the pandemic, Trusts approved studies in an average of 10 days, compared to anticipated timelines of 37 days under ‘normal circumstances.’

Several R&D leaders said their staff had worked evenings and weekends in order to respond to the urgent demands of Covid-19 research portfolios, and leaders praised their staff for the dedication shown throughout the pandemic.

UKRD said results point to the fact that the efficiency of study set is largely dependent on the availability of resources.

Managing Director Research UCLH/UCL and member of the UKRD Leadership Team Dr Nick McNally co-authored an article setting out results of the survey in full on the UKRD website, along with Matthew Peak, UKRD Chair and Director of R&D, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, and Christine McGrath, UKRD Chair and Director of R&D, University Hospital Southampton.