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OUH well-placed for post-pandemic clinical research

Clinical research at Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust is emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic in a leaner and more focused way, with studies only resuming if they are considered likely to deliver.

In March 2020, Oxford, like the rest of the country, paused all of its clinical research activities to reduce the risk to staff and study participants, and to allow some staff to be redeployed to clinical areas. This also allowed OUH to focus its research resources to prioritise and accelerate COVID-19 studies, in partnership with the University of Oxford.

When this pause happened, there were 2,000 active research studies hosted by OUH.

The hiatus afforded by the pandemic has enabled OUH to review its portfolio of clinical research studies to assess which are still likely, and which are unlikely, to deliver results. This review was completed in September 2021.

Of the 2,000 studies paused in March 2020, 1,100 have been resumed, and the rest closed; half of those closed had already completed their activities before the pandemic and the other half were closed because they were judged unlikely to be able to deliver due to the pandemic.

Following a rigorous assessment and prioritisation process, more than 400 new non-COVID-19 studies have been opened to recruitment since March 2020, meaning that OUH currently hosts a total of more than 1,500 active clinical research studies.

The Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England have recently contacted funders and sponsors supporting research across the NHS and asked them to review their portfolios to ‘take firm action on studies that are struggling to deliver’ in order to ‘build back a thriving, sustainable and diverse R&D portfolio within the NHS’.

As OUH’s outgoing Director of Research and Development, Professor Keith Channon, says, this is an exercise that the Trust has already accomplished: “The research carried out in Oxford played a world-leading role in the UK’s response to the pandemic. But of course, Oxford is at the forefront of a wide range of healthcare research. It was absolutely essential that we were able to emerge from the pandemic in good shape to make progress across our whole research portfolio – and that the focus of our researchers and research support teams was squarely on those studies that had the best chance of benefiting our patients.

“Thanks to the review of paused studies we carried out, we are ahead of the field with regard to adopting the guidance from the DHSC and NHSE, and are now well placed to sustain and develop a diverse portfolio of clinical research studies that is relevant to our patients and will have real impact.”

Pictured: COVID-19 research – Jon Lewis, Oxford Hospitals Charity



News Categories: Research Healthcare Innovation COVID-19