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Research in the NHS

Last reviewed 
26 September 2017

Clinical research is a vital part of the work of the NHS, helping improve treatments for patients now and in the future.

  • Our vision is of an NHS where:
    • Every patient is offered opportunities to be involved in research.
    • All NHS staff see the importance of research.
    • The NHS conducts high-quality research and adopts new treatment.
  • We are working with the NHS and its staff, patients, research funders, universities, medical schools and parliamentarians to deliver our vision to embed research throughout the NHS.
Quality and standards 
  • The Secretary of State for Health, NHS England and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) all have a legal duty to promote research and the use of evidence obtained through research. Many other NHS organisations also have responsibilities for research and the adoption of innovation.  
  • NHS England published an updated research plan in early 2017
  • All research in the NHS must be approved by the Health Research Authority and local NHS trusts. Work is underway to streamline these processes.
Data and impact 
  • Charities funded 29% of non-commercial research in the NHS in 2016
  • In total more than 665,000 participants took part in clinical research studies supported by the NIHR CRN in 2016/17. This is 10% more than the previous year.
  • The Wellcome Trust Monitor Report found that 77 per cent of the public are willing to share their anonymised medical records for the purposes of medical research.