Joint Research Office


Reset of research portfolio

16 May 2022

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England recently contacted all funders and sponsors of research in the NHS asking them to ‘take firm action on studies that are struggling to deliver' to ‘build back a thriving, sustainable and diverse R&D portfolio.'

The DHSC and NHSE say ‘it will require closure of studies that are not viable in the current context’.

The JRO has received a list of 278 UCL and UCLH sponsored studies and the DHSC has asked us to comment on their viability. We need to do this before 31 May 2022.

The JRO will contact investigators associated with these studies and ask them to comment on their intent for the future of the study. Given the tight DHSC timescales, we need investigators to respond to us within 48 hours. A JRO oversight group has been set up to manage this process.

If a study is considered for closure, the JRO or the CTU will discuss this with the study team.

If a study is closed, the JRO will document the reason for this and provide this information to study teams.

The DHSE and NHSE have asked funders and sponsors to apply several principles during this review:

  1. Studies which have closed to recruitment should complete follow up as planned (as long as achievable within the current clinical context)
  2. Studies which have met their target recruitment but are still recruiting should close to recruitment and complete follow up as planned
  3. Studies that had difficulty recruiting before the pandemic and have persistent problems should be considered for closure (noting that low recruitment is sometimes is expected, such as in rare disease studies)
  4. Studies that were recruiting well pre-pandemic or have been set up since, but are now struggling to meet recruitment targets, should be assessed to determine the major factor in the lack of progress. If it is felt that this problem cannot be overcome, then consideration should be given to closure.
  5. Studies in set up, particularly those that have been in set up for some time, should be assessed to consider whether there are similar issues (as listed in point 4) so these can be addressed.
  6. Portfolio review should include patient and public involvement.

Within the JRO we are currently in the process of setting up a committee to oversee this review, which will include patient representation.

At any stage over the coming weeks, the JRO may contact investigators to ask for details of recruitment to their studies.