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How can the CRN Study Support Service help you?

What is the NIHR Clinical Research Network?

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) facilitates the development, set-up and delivery of clinical research studies in the NHS.

Who can receive Network support?

Research funders who fund research through open national competition with high quality peer review, fund research that is of clear value to the NHS, and take into account the needs, priorities and realities of the NHS can self-declare as NIHR non-commercial Partners. Those which are funded by NIHR non-commercial Partners (that meet the Department of Health’s definition of research) are automatically eligible for NIHR Clinical Research Network Support. All studies that are eligible for NIHR CRN support are included in the NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio.

To assist these clinical research studies, The NIHR Clinical Research Network provides NHS support  for the Service Support Costs (as defined by the Department of Health’s AcoRD Guidance) incurred by an NHS organisation participating in clinical research.

This support includes:

  • Enhancing NHS resources, by funding the people and facilities needed to carry out research “on the ground” – for example, highly trained research nurses and data managers
  • Helping researchers to identify suitable NHS sites, and recruit patients to take part in research studies
  • Advising researchers on how to make their study “work” in the NHS environment

This support is distributed via 15 Local Research Networks, covering the whole of England, supported by a National Coordinating Centre.

What is the Study Support Service?

The Study Support Service encompasses the entire research delivery pathway from research ideas to study closure. Applicable to all studies which are eligible for NIHR CRN support, the Study Support Service ensures that a high quality service is provided, resulting in improved outcomes for patients.

Take a look at the route map developed by the CRN which highlights the elements that make up the Study Support Service, including;

  • Early contact and engagement
  • National Study Delivery Assessment - for non-commercial studies
  • Effective Study Start Up
  • Study Record Management
  • Study Performance Management and Review

Our animated video also helps to give an overview of how each of the CRN’s service offerings fit together to form the Study Support Service.

What are the benefits of the Study Support Service for a research funder?

Many of the elements which are brought together under the Study Support Service are there to benefit research funders.

Pre-application support is provided to researchers via the Early Contact and Engagement service. This helps investigators and their study teams to understand how the NIHR CRN can support them to deliver their study to time and target. An Early Contact Lead from one of the Local Research Networks provides a single point of contact for any study queries and will signpost and offer advice as required. This results in more effective use of resources, including NHS Service Support Costs where appropriate.

For every non-commercial study, the Network performs a National Study Delivery Assessment.  Utilising local and national expertise to identify any specific challenges to effective set-up and delivery this assessment gives early visibility to potential issues and proactively manages these throughout the lifecycle of the study, contributing to delivery to time and target.

Effective Study Start Up

Each study is provided with a Study Start-Up Plan, consisting of;

  • A milestone schedule; listing sites, targets, timelines and key contacts 
  • Study recommendations; based on study design and patient populations

This start up plan contributes to the quick and efficient setup of a study, ensuring that study funding is appropriately used.

Study Performance Management

This brings together the outputs of Early Contact discussions, the National Study Delivery Assessment and the Study Start Up Plan in order to effectively performance manage the study. This provides earlier notification of any challenges and may result in fewer funding extensions.

Study Record Management

Through Study Record Management, the Network ensures that there is a consistent and proactive approach to managing study records within our Portfolio Database, improving data quality which is vital for effective performance management. 

How can you find out more?

Take a look at the Study Support Service pages of our website. Information contained on the site is constantly evolving - so keep coming back to stay up-to-date.

If you have any specific questions, please direct these to the Study Support Service Helpdesk.

The NIHR Clinical Research Network is providing regular updates to the AMRC on the Study Support Service via our stakeholder newsletter. The latest version of this is available here.