News Release 

Clinical research improves health of UK economy and NHS

National Institute for Health Research

  • Findings show clinical research "adds billions to the economy, boosts jobs and generates much needed income for the NHS" according to Chief Executive Jonathan Sheffield
  • New KPMG analysis shows that clinical trials supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network contribute an estimated c. £2.7 billion to the UK economy annually and support over 47,000 jobs
  • Clinical research activity supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network continues to grow - with the number of studies and participants receiving NIHR Clinical Research Network support up by 30% over three years

The value of clinical research to the NHS, the UK economy and jobs market has been evaluated in a new report, which provides an assessment of the economic impact of the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network's (NIHR CRN) activities to support clinical research in England.

The report, produced by KPMG UK's Economics team and commissioned by the NIHR CRN, covers the financial period 2016/17 to 2018/19 and presents amalgamated three year data alongside figures for each individual financial year (FY). It shows that over this three year period, clinical research supported by the NIHR CRN generated an estimated £8bn of gross value added (GVA) and 47,467 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs for the UK.

Using data from a range of sources, the report also provides an insight into the benefits and income that NHS providers gain through undertaking commercial contract research - studies sponsored by life sciences companies and delivered alongside NHS care. The report provides an analysis of the value of payments to NHS trusts for delivering commercial research studies. It also estimates how much NHS providers save through using medicines provided as part of commercial studies, where the company bears the cost of the medicine, in place of the standard NHS treatment.

Key findings from the report include:

Over the three year period FY 2016/17 to 2018/19:

  • The estimated annual economic contribution of NIHR CRN supported studies increased by £0.1 billion (GVA) between 2016/17 and 2018/19 (up from £2.6 billion in FY 2016/17, to £2.7 billion in FY 2018/19) - linked to increased commercial contract research activity supported by the NIHR CRN

  • For each patient recruited onto a commercial trial supported by the NIHR CRN, on average NHS providers in England received an estimated £9,200 from life sciences companies, and on average saved an estimated £5,800 per patient (where trial drugs replaced the standard treatment)

  • The number of studies and patients recruited onto NIHR CRN supported studies have both increased by approximately 30% in three years (FY 2016/17 - FY 2018/19)

    For FY 2018/19:

  • NIHR CRN supported clinical research activity generated around £2.7 billion of gross value added to the UK economy and an estimated 47,500 FTE jobs

  • The total estimated income for the NHS from delivering commercial clinical trials was £355 million, and the total estimated cost saving was £28.6 million (where trial drugs were used in place of standard treatments)

Dr Jonathan Sheffield OBE, Chief Executive of the NIHR Clinical Research Network said: "The report highlights and evidences the significant contribution that the delivery of clinical research within the UK makes to the health and the wealth of the nation. Put simply, clinical research benefits our economy enormously - it creates jobs, and generates much needed income and savings for NHS Trusts - ultimately helping NHS finances to go further while improving patient care and services through the development of new drugs and treatments.

"The NIHR CRN plays a crucial role in this through our dedicated research delivery support and expertise, which enables life science companies to run their trials across the NHS in England. It is this unparalleled offer to the pharmaceutical industry which helps to ensure the UK and the NHS remains amongst the very best places in the world to run clinical trials."

Matt Cooper, Business Development and Marketing Director at the NIHR Clinical Research Network said: "The benefits to the UK of a strong and productive NIHR Clinical Research Network, working in partnership with the NHS, are clearly demonstrated in this report. It describes sustained growth in the Clinical Research Network Portfolio of both clinical research and its value to the UK economy - £2.7billion in 2018/19, an increase of £300million from the previous report in 2016.

"This welcome report comes at a critical moment for commercial clinical research in the UK and gives further support to the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy's assertion of the vital importance of clinical research to the UK economy."

The NIHR CRN provides support to enable patients and health care professionals to participate in clinical research studies, both in the NHS and wider health and social care environment. The clinical research infrastructure provided by the NIHR CRN includes the provision of dedicated research support staff throughout the NHS, facilities, equipment and support services such as pharmacy services. Life science companies fully reimburse the NHS for all research services and support used during the running of their commercial clinical trials and also contribute and element of capacity building funding for the research centres involved.

A significant proportion of clinical research activity in the UK is supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network. In the report, KPMG estimates that the NIHR Clinical Research Network supports around 85 per cent of all commercial studies in England that are approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).


Notes to editors:

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation's largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR:

  • Funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care
  • Engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research
  • Attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future
  • Invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services
  • Partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy

The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR supports applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries, using UK aid from the UK government.

About the report: KPMG Impact and Value of the NIHR Clinical Research Network

The NIHR CRN commissioned KPMG to undertake an update to KPMG's original 2016 impact and value study, to assess the impact and value of its activity from financial year (FY) 2016/17 to FY 2018/19, cumulatively and in each individual year. The study focuses on the impacts generated through the activity of delivering CRN-supported clinical research, rather than the outcomes of the research itself (i.e. it does not include any health impacts associated with any new treatment pathways, drugs or medical equipment developed as a result of the clinical research conducted). While the CRN facilitates the realisation of these important impacts, for example through its role in study set up and delivery support, it does not directly influence the types of clinical research that are undertaken on its portfolio of studies.

The report provides a quantitative and qualitative assessment of these impacts in gross terms, drawing on samples of primary data collected for the study, publically available data and information and insights gathered through a series of stakeholder interviews based on stakeholders selected by the CRN. Data are assessed from a range of sources, including NHS trusts, NIHR Clinical Research Network, publically available data on the commercial industry, and the application of evidence based assumptions - conducted in accordance with the UK Government recognised appraisal methodologies set out in HM Treasury Green Book. Due to the limited number of stakeholder interviews conducted, and limitations to the data made available for some areas of analysis, it should be noted that the findings and results of KPMG's analysis may not be fully representative of all CRN activity linked to the portfolio of clinical research studies it supports. Full details of the approach, data sources, limitations to the study and how KPMG have sought to mitigate these, are included in Section 4 of the report.

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