Interesting questions…

Posted on April 6, 2011 by


Chi Onwurah has been asking some very interesting medical researchy questions in parliament, one exploring where research fits on the new NHS Commissioning Board which is being created by the health bill, and one getting lots of detail on the government’s plans for the new Health Research Regulatory Agency – the new single agency to regulate research recommended by the Academy of Medical Sciences.

The National Commissioning Board is being established by the Health And Social Care Bill currently on its way through parliament. In line with the government’s commitment to research being a core role of the NHS, we are concerned that this Board includes a strong voice for research and a duty to promote and use research throughout the NHS.

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what duties the National Commissioning Board has in respect of medical research. [50735]

Mr Simon Burns: Clause 19 of the Health and Social Care Bill outlines further provisions for the NHS Commissioning Board including a duty that the Board must, in the exercise of its functions, have regard to the need to promote research on matters relevant to the health service, and the use in the health service of evidence obtained from research.

Answering Chi’s question about the Health Research Regulatory Agency, the health minister Simon Burns restated the planned timetable which was announced in the Strategy for Growth published on the day of the budget.

Health Research Regulatory Agency

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what timetable he has set for the commencement of operations at the Health Research Regulatory Agency; [50707]

(2) what steps he is taking to reduce the time taken to approve clinical trials. [50708]

Mr Simon Burns: A range of measures to streamline health research regulation and improve the cost-effectiveness of clinical trials are outlined in ‘The Plan for Growth’.

The Government will create a health research regulatory agency to combine and streamline the approvals for health research which are at present scattered across many organisations. This will improve the timeliness of decisions about clinical trials. The agency will be established in the first instance as a special health authority, with the National Research Ethics Service as its core, during 2011.

The new agency will work closely with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to create a unified approval process and promote proportionate standards for compliance and inspection within a consistent national system of research governance.

From autumn 2011, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funding will become conditional on organisations playing their part in the national research governance system. The Government will launch a framework of standard procedures and good practice for local health research management-the NIHR Research Support Services framework-by May 2011. Recipients of NIHR funding will regularly publish metrics on their performance in initiating and delivering health research. When deciding on funding, the NIHR will take account of performance against public NIHR benchmarks, including an initial benchmark of 70 days from receipt of a valid research protocol to recruitment of the first participant in a study.