Delivering world class cancer research in the new health system
Stephen was joined on the panel by Richard Stephens, a patient representative and participant in clinical trials, Professor Jonathan Lederman, Director of Medical Oncology, Cancer Research UK, UCL Cancer Institute and Professor Nick Lemoine, Director of the Institute of Cancer, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry.
The meeting was chaired by Stephen Metcalfe MP.
The panel spoke about the value of research, particularly patient trials, noting the progress which has been made in the past ten years following the creation of NCRN and NCRI with an increase of patients participating in trials from 4% to 18%. Emphasis was placed upon the challenges to conducting trials, principally those related to achieving approval and recruiting patients.
During the session, Delegates heard from speakers of their experiences of the difficulties involved in participating in and conducting clinical trials, and of the risk that the UK is no longer being ‘on the map’ regarding clinical trials. Some of the key issues raised from the session were:
- Difficulties of securing funding, since research doesn’t contribute directly to outcomes
- The current Healthcare culture fails to truly support the value and benefits of health research
- Low priority afforded to research by NHS trusts
- Service pressures for clinical staff involved in trials as they must deliver care and meet targets, thus reducing their capacity for involvement in trials
- Over regulation and complex regulatory pathway.
What needs to happen next?
- Introducing proportionality to the regulations of trials
- Ensuring consistency across regulatory procedures
- Creation of a new National Research Governance, incorporating a Health Research Agency to streamline the approval process, ensuring a single point of entry, whilst maintaining appropriate safeguards, and to formally, irreversibly embed health research into NHS leadership and governance processes
- NHS Commissioning Boards ought to pay treatment costs for patients taking part in research funded by government and research charity partner organisations
- Implementation of a mechanism to allow NHS Commissioning Boards to ensure that CCGs take their duty to promote research into account and to assess their performance
- Trials must be made easier for patients to access, potentially by allowing patients to conduct online searches of all trials open to them
- Take advantage of the opportunities within ‘The Plan for Growth’ and the Prime Minister’s review of life sciences, which aim to reduce the time taken to obtain approval, for the NHS to be the fastest adopter of new innovations in the world and to maintain focus on ‘health and life sciences’ as a key sector for long-term growth