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Study reveals long delays in medical research are costing the UK Jobs

New research from Queen Mary, University of London and Warwick Business School warns that delays and variability in the approvals process for clinical research could be causing pharmaceutical companies to look outside the UK and risks the country losing some of its most experienced researchers.

23 February 2010


The two year study, funded by the EPSRC, focused on identifying the key social, organisational and managerial factors that influence clinical research projects in the UK. In the first study of its kind, the researchers carried out a national survey in which they surveyed 247 clinical researchers about the challenges of managing clinical research.

The study found that although patient recruitment remains a major challenge, retaining research staff was becoming increasingly difficult. The research also found that retaining the research team throughout the project was significantly hampered by aspects of the approval process. Researchers encountered difficulty in obtaining approval from individual hospital Trusts and that there was huge variation in both the time and requirements needed to gain approval from these Trusts.

Maxine Robertson, Professor of Innovation and Organisation Queen Mary's School of Business and Management said: "Far more policy attention is needed to address these problems, especially around the skills shortages that are emerging and aspects of the NHS culture which are making it very difficult to conduct the innovative, world-leading clinical research that the UK has always been known for."

Professor Jacky Swan of Warwick Business School commented: “To commercial organisations, time is very important and although many are committed to carrying out clinical research in this country, many are finding it easier to do this research abroad. And that does have long term implications for high quality research in the UK and also for the retention of skilled researchers.”

Professor Swan also stressed that the inconsistencies and lengthiness of the approvals processes has a negative effect research by non- commercial organisations. She explained: “There are three elements of approval: regulation, ethics, and research and development. Although there has been improvement in regulation and there have been efforts to streamline the R&D process, these are not happening quickly enough to have a positive impact.”

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