The NIHR has published a statement on its website on continuity of research during the COVID-19 outbreak. The guidance is summarised below.
CONTINUITY OF RESEARCH
Many of our community who drive or deliver NIHR research also provide direct care to patients and the public. Given the scale of the national and global challenge of COVID-19, clinical and academic health and care professionals currently funded by NIHR, who are working on topics other than COVID-19, should prioritise frontline care where requested to do so by their employing organisations.
Similarly, research staff with other relevant skills, such as pharmacists and laboratory technicians, should also prioritise support to frontline care. In addition, researchers should consult with their employers to make facilities that currently support research studies available for frontline care.
This will mean that many research studies funded by NIHR, or supported by NIHR (via the Clinical Research Network and other NIHR infrastructure), may need to be paused, to free up NIHR-funded staff to help bolster the frontline response to COVID-19. In addition, we recognise that NIHR award-holding organisations may need to pause research studies for locally determined public health reasons.
However, clinical trials or other research studies that are funded or supported by NIHR should continue if discontinuing them will have significant detrimental effects on the ongoing care of individual participants involved in those studies. These are clinical decisions which will need to be made on a case-by-case basis by local decision makers on the basis of local risk and capacity assessments.
All organisations holding NIHR awards that are paused will, in the short term, continue to receive payments from DHSC in line with existing NIHR contractual payment schedules.
A Q&A on this topic is available on the NIHR website. We will update this advice periodically in response to future developments.
Any individuals or organisations funded by and/or supported by a particular NIHR funding stream who have further questions should contact their relevant NIHR Coordinating Centre in the first instance. Your usual contacts will apply but, if in any doubt, please get in touch via the contact points outlined below.
- If you are in receipt of career development award funding including fellowships: firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you are in receipt of programme funding: either email@example.com (i4i, PRP, PGfAR, PDG, RfPB and RIGHT) or firstname.lastname@example.org (EME, HS&DR, HTA, PHR, ESP, CTU support funding, HSPR and global health units and groups)
- If you have questions about the delivery of a clinical study: email@example.com
- If you are part of NIHR's broader research infrastructure or a school or unit: firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you are a patient or member of the public and have been recruited into a research study, please direct any questions to your study team
MEETINGS, EVENTS AND TRAINING
The NIHR is following government advice to employers and businesses.
However, we recognise that our people are employed by a variety of organisations, including NHS Trusts, universities and private companies.
We further recognise that many of our meetings, events and training programmes involve health and care professionals who must prioritise their energies into frontline care, if requested to do so by their employing organisations.
Given the above, our recommendation is that:
a) meetings, events and training programmes that involve health and care professions are conducted on a virtual basis wherever feasible;
b) meetings, events and training programmes that involve health and care professionals and need to be face-to-face are deferred to the summer months wherever feasible;
c) meetings, events and training programmes where it proves impossible to achieve quoracy are cancelled unless the chair agrees to a temporary amendment to terms of reference.