Position statement




20 October 2022

RCP NIHR position statement: Making research everybody’s business

The COVID-19 pandemic has starkly illustrated the importance of clinical research, which was crucial to the development of vaccines and treatments that have saved millions of lives globally. Clinical research is essential to improving outcomes for patients, and by improving the efficiency and efficacy of care it can be a vital tool in tackling waiting list backlogs and reducing the pressure on the NHS.

All clinicians can play a role in supporting clinical research, from leading studies to helping recruit patients to trials. RCP and NIHR’s new position statement makes the following recommendations for stakeholders across the health and care system, with the overall aim of embedding research in clinical practice.

For trusts, health boards and integrated care systems (ICSs):

  • Develop strong links between medical directors, R&D directors and chief executives
  • Encourage support for research to be recognised as part of direct clinical activity and reward involvement of such through local and national awards
  • Ring-fence time for research in job plans of those who want to have a substantive research leadership role
  • Ensure that multidisciplinary workforce planning encompasses those who support research
  • Take opportunities to implement proportionate training requirements for those involved in research (including taking account of Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and Health Research Authority’s joint statement on the application of Good Clinical Practice).

For Health Education England and NHS England, as well as statutory education bodies and the departments of health in the other UK nations:

  • Work with stakeholders to promote opportunities for postgraduate doctors, medical students and other health professionals to engage with research
  • Recognise and reward trusts that engage with research and industry to improve patient care.

For regulators:

  • For the CQC: strengthen assessment of clinical research activity as a marker of care within assessment processes for trusts and ICSs
  • For the GMC: build on the publication of its key principles – which set out system changes needed to encourage engagement with research – by continuing to work with partners to encourage greater participation.

For funders:

  • For the NIHR: continue to build capacity and capability for research across the whole of the NHS and care, working closely with other funders, academies and cross-funder initiatives
  • Ensure that grant awards and research processes recognise and support research that addresses health inequalities and other NHS priority areas
  • Ensure that research projects that are funded are accessible and inclusive
  • Provide support to grant-holders to reduce the environmental impact of clinical research activity.

The statement is supported by UK Research and Innovation, UKRD, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

You can download the full statement below. And find out more about our work on research at the RCP Research and innovation hub. For further information or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us via policy@rcp.ac.uk.