Creation of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC)

A new drive to harness the research potential of the NHS was given a further boost today by the creation of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC).

The new body has been tasked with speeding up the development of new medicines and treatments from the laboratory to the patient's bedside, by expanding the number and range of clinical trials.

Using the successful cancer research networks as a model, the UKCRC will help bring together clinical teams, primary care trusts, the voluntary sector, and industry to make sure that more patients take part in clinical trials. An initial £24 million has been allocated to establish new NHS research networks in five key areas - Alzheimers', stroke, diabetes, mental health and children's medicine. An extra £7 million will also be available to fund additional research and to strengthen the infrastructure to support more trials in these areas.

Lord Warner said:

"Investment in medical research saves lives. That is why earlier this year the government announced the biggest ever increase in research funding. The new UK Clinical Research Collaboration will make sure this extra investment is used to develop treatments for some of the most common and debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer's and stroke so that more NHS patients participate in clinical trials and get the benefit of the latest medicines and treatments

Driving forward research in less favoured areas will enable us to promote an even more active research culture in the NHS".

The UKCRC has been established in response to calls for NHS and industry to work more closely to make sure that patients and industry get the full benefit from trials of the latest treatments. The new body will co-ordinate existing research and funding, identify gaps where more research is needed and develop incentives for NHS clinicians to become research active.

Dr Liam O'Toole, who has been appointed acting Chief Executive of UKCRC, said:

"This new body will play a key role in ensuring a coherent approach to funding research in the NHS. We have the opportunity to build on the success of the National Cancer Research Institute and cancer networks by coordinating clinical research and identifying gaps in capability and programmes".

The Department of Health will be publishing further details of how research funding will be used to support the UKCRC's work in early Autumn.

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