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The development of Clinical Research Networks (CRN) has been central to the work conducted by Health Departments and research funders to promote and support clinical research within the NHS in the UK. In England, the National Institute for Health Research has supported the delivery of clinical research within the NHS primarily through CRN. CRN provide the essential infrastructure within the NHS for the set up and delivery of clinical research within a high-quality peer-reviewed portfolio of studies. The success of the National Cancer Research Network is summarized in Chapter 5. In this chapter progress in five other topics, and more recently in primary care and comprehensively across the NHS, is summarized. In each of the 'topic-specific' networks (Dementias and Neurodegenerative Diseases, Diabetes, Medicines for Children, Mental Health, Stroke) there has been a rapid and substantial increase in portfolios and in the recruitment of patients into studies in these portfolios. The processes and the key success factors are described. The CRN have worked to support research supported by pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies and there has been substantial progress in improving the speed, cost and delivery of these 'industry' studies. In particular, work to support the increased speed of set up and delivery of industry studies, and to embed this firmly in the NHS, was explored in the North West of England in an Exemplar Programme which showed substantial reductions in study set-up times and improved recruitment into studies and showed how healthcare (NHS) organizations can overcome delays in set up times when they actively manage the process. Seven out of 20 international studies reported that the first patient to be entered anywhere in the world was from the UK. In addition, the CRN have supported research management and governance, workforce development and clinical trials unit collaboration and coordination. International peer reviews of all of the CRN have been positive and resulted in the continuation of the system for a further 5 years in all cases.

Original publication




Journal article


Ann Oncol

Publication Date



22 Suppl 7


vii36 - vii43


Biomedical Research, Delivery of Health Care, Humans, State Medicine, United Kingdom