The future of UK clinical trials - our response to the O'Shaughnessy report

Last updated on 26 May 2023

More people in the UK should be able to access ground-breaking treatments that could dramatically improve standards of care, and their health and wellbeing.

This bold commitment to the future of health research has been made by the government today in a response to Lord O’Shaughnessy’s review of commercial clinical trials.

The HRA, along with other organisations, will help to lead the change required.

The review was commissioned to offer recommendations on how commercial clinical trials can help the life sciences sector unlock health, growth and investment opportunities and help the UK reach its full potential as a science superpower. It follows a report from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) which showed that the number of commercial clinical trials in the UK fell by almost half between 2017 and 2021, despite our world-leading research response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matt Westmore, Chief Executive of the HRA said:

A headshot of Dr Matt Westmore
'A vibrant commercial clinical research environment in the UK is important to patients today and essential for all our futures. Lord O'Shaughnessy's review and the government's response provide the focus and momentum to strengthen partnerships across the UK research landscape to make change happen so that patients can take part in research relevant to them today, and that research findings can improve care faster for us all.
We’re already working hard to include, so that health and social care research is done with and for everyone, and to accelerate, so that research findings improve care faster. The O’Shaughnessy review, and the government’s response recognise our contribution to the UK research landscape, and we’re delighted the government has confidence in us to build on work already underway with others in the sector to make it easy to do high quality health and social care research that people can trust.
Our Research Ethics Committees and Confidentiality Advisory Group make sure that people have fair access to clinical trials. We are excited to work with other organisations to find out more from the public about how we can make it easier for people to find out about research that they want to take part in, in a way that they trust.’
Matt Westmore

Janet Messer, Director of Approvals added:

Dr Janet Messer
‘We're committed to continuing to accelerate the set-up and delivery of high-quality clinical research. The O’Shaughnessy review highlights some of the improvements we’ve already made to our approvals through our combined review service with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and our fast-track ethics review option.
We’re delighted to receive further funding so we can work with the NHS and other organisations to coordinate and standardise practice across the UK so that trials can be set up in the NHS quickly, consistently and predictably, for the benefit of everyone.’
Janet Messer

The HRA will work with others across UK clinical research to take forward the commitments in the government response. We’re committing to report progress back to the government as well as to those taking part in, working in and involved in clinical trials, and those who could benefit from the outcomes of this research.

Together we can make it easier to do research that people can trust and increase the opportunities for people to take part in research here in the UK and use those findings to improve care.

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