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Society endorses Cancer Research UK's ‘Creating Time for Research’ report

Published: 25 Feb 2021 in Society news

The Society has endorsed a new report from Cancer Research UK, which sets out how healthcare staff can be supported to conduct research. Embedding research into care within the NHS will improve patient outcomes and support the government’s ambitions for the UK to be a ‘global science superpower’. The report, which is also endorsed by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and others, makes nine key recommendations that address long-standing barriers to research.
The recommendations advocate for funding – specifically for healthcare staff contracts with dedicated time for research, alongside clinical research funding that is in line with commitments to broader public Research and Development (R&D). The report also calls for regional reviews of clinical research activity and impact, building in assessments of opportunities for research equity and local need for workforce development and training. Importantly, the report reinforces the need to track progress with appropriate metrics – something that the Society is advocating for through the current CQC strategy consultation – and to reinforce patient and staff engagement through showcasing the value of research locally.
Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, the Society’s President, said:

NHS leadership and staff engaged with research at a scale never seen before during the pandemic through trials like RECOVERY. As a result, the UK has led the way in evidence-based treatment for COVID-19. The pandemic is an opportunity to build on patient and clinician engagement with research for the future of UK healthcare and industrial strategy.
The report from CRUK captures both this opportunity, and the real barriers to realising its potential. Tackling service provision pressures and training challenges needs a strategic approach: support for research must be a golden thread running through NHS strategy, including the People Plan and CQC assessment.
Clinical pharmacologists work at the interface of research and care. They have helped lead the way in the research response to COVID-19. The specialty is one of the few that has research embedded into its training curriculum and is thus well-placed to support ambitions to build capability in the wider workforce.

Advocating for the importance of clinical research is a key priority for the Society. Clinical pharmacology is a specialty that is well-placed to deliver clinical research, and support training of the wider workforce. However, the specialty is at risk. We are advocating for a government-backed workforce strategy for UK clinical pharmacology with our partners in the Clinical Pharmacology Skills Alliance.  Alongside this, the Society is supporting sector-wider action to tackle the separation of research and care in the NHS through our membership of the CARE Group (Coordinated Approaches to Research and care Embedded), led by NIHR and RCP. We have also explored ‘Shaping the future training and employment environment for clinical research’ in a joint Academy of Medical Sciences FORUM report, in partnership with ABPI.
Investment in clinical pharmacology has benefits extending beyond improving UK research capacity and capability. The role of clinical pharmacologists in supporting regulatory decisions has been centre-stage during the pandemic. Supporting safe and effective use of medicines through research, regulation and informed prescribing protects patients and saves the NHS money. Investing in UK clinical pharmacology means healthier patients, better medicines, and a more efficient NHS.