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20th April 2022

A new simpler way of costing research delivery in Wales

A UK initiative has launched this week revolutionising the way commercial research is delivered by standardising costs and speeding up commercial study set-up – making the UK a more attractive place to undertake life changing research.

Research in Wales

In Wales this initiative, called the National Contract Value Review, is being coordinated by Health and Care Research Wales in partnership with NHS organisations across the country.

The NCVR process will standardise and streamline the way commercial trials are costed in the UK. NCVR is aimed at making it easier and faster to set-up commercial trials in the UK.  It focuses on having a single resource review with an assigned skilled national coordinator for each commercial study, who is empowered to work on behalf of all NHS providers across the UK as well as using the standardised costs determined within the interactive costing tool (iCT).

Dr Helen Hodgson, Senior Research Funding, Finance and Contracts Manager, leading the NCVR in Wales said: “In Wales, we’ve been working closely with the organisations across the UK to advocate this new streamlined process.

“Currently most NHS organisations in the UK are taking part in a commercial clinical trial negotiations separately with the commercial sponsor to determine the resource and cost required to deliver that study in the UK.

“The NCVR process will speed up clinical trial set up times and increase our capacity and capability by carrying out the negotiation once on behalf of all the NHS organisations in the UK taking part in the study.  In turn, this will make the UK a more attractive place for international commercial organisations to undertake research studies, ensuring our patients have rapid access to cutting edge treatments could save thousands of lives.

“The next steps for us are to continue working with health boards, industry colleagues and commercial sponsors to help with this new process which should be coming into play towards the end of the summer 2022.”

How will this work in practice?

By streamlining the negotiation process, the NCVR aims to make study set up more straight forward by:

  • Simplifying the cost negotiations thus improving the study set-up process which will speed up access to new treatments and support patients to receive the best care.
  • Increasing the speed and efficiency of research set up to improving the capacity for more research in the NHS.
  • Having a transparent, ‘no surprises’ approach for commercial research sponsors
  • Using local expertise in the form of a peer group to make sure the process works for all in defining and allocating resource and procedure/investigation requirements for study delivery.

When will this come into practice?

A staged approach to implementing NCVR is being taken, with the first stage currently ongoing in Wales liaising with all Health Boards determining the sites agreeing to the standardised prices generated by the NIHR interactive Costing Tool.

From summer 2022, the introduction of the NCVR process will begin. This will involve an assessment of the research study protocol activities and the completed costing template (iCT), together with negotiation of the resource required to deliver at any UK-based NHS location.

Endorsed by Welsh Government

Carys Thomas, Head of Policy at the Research & Development Division in Welsh Government said: “We’re so pleased Wales is playing an integral part in this National Contract Review, anything which improves efficiency increasing the amount of research conducted here in Wales is supported and encouraged by Welsh Government.

“This new way of working will be supported by new policy and we’re looking forward to seeing it in action.”

A new way of working in Wales

Dr Nicola Williams, Director of Support & Delivery at Health and Care Research Wales, said: “This project began before the Covid-19 pandemic; however, the past two years has highlighted more than ever the need for a streamlined, more efficient way to conduct research. Working together across the UK has resulted in life-saving treatments such as vaccines. I look forward to working further with our organisations in Wales to achieve the benefits this project can bring for our research community and participants.

For more information on the operational information of stage one contact the Health and Care Research Wales support and delivery service or join a free webinar on 28 April 2022, 12:30 – 13:30 sign up here.

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