More action needed to transform regulation and governance of health research

The Academy, Cancer Research UK and Wellcome Trust have released a report of a meeting to assesses the government’s progress since the launch of 'A new pathway for the regulation and governance of health research'

The report calls reveals a need for leadership and collaboration in the research community so that the new Health Research Agency can become an influential body.

Press release 

A COLLABORATIVE approach is needed to continue to improve the regulation of health research - essential at a time of considerable reform for the NHS.

This is according to a joint meeting report, launched today by Cancer Research UK, the Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS) and Wellcome Trust.

The report, Transforming the regulation and governance of health research in the UK, summarises the results of a meeting of health organisations held in February 2012. It assesses the government’s progress since an AMS review published in January 2011 called for the regulation of health research in the UK to be reviewed. It also evaluated the development of commitments in the Government’s Plan for Growth which pledged to improve health research regulation in the UK by setting up a single Health Research Authority (HRA) to simplify the approval process researchers go though when setting up projects.

Today’s report reveals a need for leadership and collaboration in the research community so that the new HRA can become an influential body. The HRA must work closely with others to set a national agenda for the regulation and management of research.

The report states that patients and the public must be involved at every stage of health research. And that there is a need to develop better ways to monitor progress – and feedback developments within the research community.

Professor Sir John Tooke, president of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said: “Important steps have been made towards creating a regulatory framework that eliminates unnecessary delays, bureaucracy and complexity to deliver maximum health and wealth benefits from research. We must work together to further improve the regulatory framework to create a better environment for research and increase the speed at which healthcare innovation becomes available, while protecting the interests of patients. This will allow the UK to realise the health and wealth benefits of our world class health research base and maximise the value of our public, charitable and commercial investment.”

Sir Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust, said: “Positive steps have been taken to improve the regulation and governance landscape and foster a truly world class environment for health research in the UK and we must now work to ensure that this vision becomes a reality. The health research community must collaborate to support the Government's aspiration to build an NHS that values and uses research. The Government’s plans to develop the safe and secure use of patient data for research are important and we look forward to working with them as these plans develop.”

Cancer Research UK spent £332m on research in 2010/2011. In the UK one in every five cancer patients is involved in a trial. And of those, 61 per cent (32,000 patients), were enrolled in a Cancer Research UK-funded study. These studies have changed clinical practice for many types of cancer.

Dr Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “To maintain our world-leading position in recruiting patients to clinical trials and enabling patients to try innovative new treatments sooner, we must continue to transform the regulatory environment for research.

“We’ve made good progress in the last year but must build on the Government’s positive steps to cut the red tape around health research and champion the vital role that research plays, while the NHS is reforming.

“We welcome the Government’s draft legislation to establish the Health Research Authority as an independent body, which will help health research get off the ground quickly, to benefit as many cancer patients as possible.

“But there’s much more to do to reduce study set-up times, and make sure there’s leadership and a collaborative approach to monitor progress and strive for improvements. 

“We’ll continue to work with Government and others to ensure the new body encourages and supports health research in the UK.”


For media enquiries please contact Emma Rigby on 020 3469 8300 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.


Notes to editors:

Academy of Medical Sciences

The Academy recommended the establishment of a Health Research Authority in its 2011 report ‘A new pathway for the regulation and governance of clinical health research’

The independent Academy of Medical Sciences promotes advances in medical science and campaigns to ensure these are translated into benefits for patients. The Academy’s Fellows are the United Kingdom’s leading medical scientists and scholars from hospitals, academia, industry and the public service.

About Cancer Research UK

  • Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research
  • The charity’s groundbreaking work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
  • This work is funded entirely by the public.
  • Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates in the UK double in the last forty years.
  • Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to beat cancer.


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