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03 September 2013

University Hospitals Bristol appointed as the local branch of the NIHR Clinical Research Network

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UH Bristol) is one of just 15 NHS trusts or foundation trusts in England to be appointed to run a local branch of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network, it was announced today.

The NIHR Clinical Research Network is the clinical research delivery arm of the NHS.  It provides funding to hospitals and surgeries to pay for research nurses, scans, x-rays and other costs associated with carrying out clinical research in the NHS. 

The Network helps to increase the opportunities for the region's patients to take part in clinical research, ensures that studies are carried out efficiently, and supports the Government's Strategy for UK Life Sciences by helping companies to carry out vital clinical research into potential life-saving new treatments and improved ways to diagnose illnesses in the NHS.

Since April, the NIHR Clinical Research Network has been carrying out a rigorous selection process to identify the NHS trusts and foundation trusts to run its 15 local branches across England.  The process was open to all NHS trusts and foundation trusts in the region.

As the chosen trust for the West of England, UH Bristol will be awarded a five year contract from the Department of Health through the NIHR, and will take responsibility for distributing approximately £15million of funding per year, to support clinical research across the whole area.

Commenting on the appointment, Professor David Wynick, Director of Research at UH Bristol, said: "We know that research today will provide more effective treatments for patients tomorrow, which is why it is so important for organisations such as ours to focus on research and encourage staff to get involved. Here at UH Bristol we have approximately 380 trials and 600 research studies open which offers our patients the very best and cutting-edge clinical care as well as the opportunity to take part in a trial."

Robert Woolley, Chief Executive of UH Bristol, said: "This is the second boost for researchers in our area within a month. In August it was announced that UH Bristol would host an NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC). The team in the West of England, known as CLAHRC West, was awarded £9 million. I am delighted that today's announcement gives us a further opportunity to ensure research is at the forefront of our work as an NHS foundation trust, and the work of other hospitals and surgeries in the area." 

The Chair of the selection panel, Dr Jonathan Sheffield, Chief Executive of the NIHR Clinical Research Network, said: "The host organisations are our local administrative branches - but they are so much more than that. They will help to set the level of ambition for clinical research delivery locally, and assist us in making sure that clinical research occupies the place it deserves in the day-to-day work of the NHS. We were extremely impressed with the commitment shown by UH Bristol during the selection process, and I very much look forward to working with them to increase the opportunities for patients to participate in research, and develop the treatments of the future."

Clinical research provides evidence about "what works" and on how the NHS can best use its resources to provide better treatments for NHS patients across all areas of medicine.  The promotion, conduct and use of clinical research is included in the NHS Constitution, which pledges that patients will be informed of research studies in which they may be eligible to participate.

Last year, more than 630,000 patients took part in clinical research studies supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network.