Written evidence submitted by ABPI and AMRC (RTR0075)

About the ABPI

The ABPI exists to make the UK the best place in the world to research, develop and use new medicines and vaccines. We represent companies of all sizes who invest in discovering the medicines of the future.

Our members supply cutting edge treatments that improve and save the lives of millions of people. We work in partnership with Government and the NHS so patients can get new treatments faster and the NHS can plan how much it spends on medicines.

About the AMRC

AMRC is the membership organisation for medical and health charities funding research in the UK. We represent over 150 medical research charities, from large to small, including: Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and Wellcome. Our members have invested nearly £14.5 billion in research in the UK over the last twelve years, supporting nearly half of all publicly funded medical research. Charities play a unique role in the life sciences ecosystem; driven by patient priorities and tackling areas of unmet need, they accelerate the delivery of innovative treatments to patients.




1.1   The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) are writing in response to the Health & Social Care Committee’s call for evidence on workforce recruitment, training and retention in health and social care.

1.2   The committee’s call for evidence is looking at reasons behind staff leaving the health and social care sectors and how to tackle this. Our response focuses on the role clinical research can play in improving the recruitment, training and retention of staff and improve job satisfaction of those working across the NHS.


The importance of clinical research to patient care

2.1   Clinical research is a critical part of the UK’s health and life science landscape, conducted across the health and social care system, with healthcare professionals, patients, and the public working together to define unmet need and design, deliver and report on clinical research studies. Enabling the design and delivery of clinical research across the UK healthcare system is a workforce comprised of a range of health and social care professionals including GPs, nurses, midwives, clinicians, clinical research practitioners and health and social care assistants.

2.2   Clinical research into new medicines and treatments can help shape and transform healthcare practice and patient pathways, bringing innovation and new treatment options to the UK’s healthcare system. It can also deliver benefits for patients beyond those directly in trials, with research-active hospitals reported to have lower mortality, better patient outcomes and performance[1],[2],[3].

2.3   The Government has stated its commitment to transforming the UK’s clinical research environment; making it a world-leading destination to design and conduct clinical research studies. The Government’s UK-wide vision for clinical research delivery, published in March 2021, highlights that embedding research in everyday healthcare delivery, across primary, secondary and tertiary care settings, is critical to maximising the benefits clinical research brings to UK patients, the NHS and wider economy. Having a well-resourced and supported workforce is essential to embedding research in the healthcare system, ensuring all healthcare professionals have the opportunity to get involved with or participate in research.


Benefits of clinical research to the health & social care workforce

3.1   In addition to bringing benefits to patients, being active and involved in clinical research can improve the recruitment, training and retention of staff and improve job satisfaction of those working across the NHS. As reported by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), doctors value being part of research and see it as a key part of clinical care. In a survey conducted in 2020, 57% of physicians wanted to be more involved in research, with 67% stating that dedicated time for research would make them more likely to apply for a role[4]. Research commissioned by the GMC also found that maintaining a mixture of clinical duties and research helped physicians avoid burnout[5].


Embedding clinical research across the NHS: barriers & solutions

4.1   Despite the appetite to participate in research and clear benefits of embedding research in clinical job roles, research is not currently available to all and there are many barriers limiting engagement. The RCP survey identified lack of knowledge & skills, lack of funding and lack of time as limiting factors for involvement in research. The survey also identified geographical variances to participation, with 18% of those working in rural hospitals less likely to participate in research than those in metropolitan areas, despite 40% of rural physicians stating they wanted to be involved in research4. These themes were also reflected in a recent report from CRUK who also identified lack of organisational support, deprioritisation of research, lack of research expertise and training in some professions and communication about the value of research.[6] In addition, we’ve seen the impact of the pandemic on NHS resource and capacity to deliver non-COVID clinical research, with redeployment of staff to frontline care and COVID-19 research leading to much reduced clinical research activity[7],[8].

4.2   The Health & Social Care committee’s published report ‘Clearing the backlog caused by the pandemic’, identifies workforce retention and training, as a key limiting factor in tackling the backlog created by COVID-19. As workforce recruitment and retention can be improved by including research as key component of clinical duties, embedding research in workforce planning can not only ensure non-COVID research is revived following the pandemic, but can go beyond in helping the NHS clear its backlog and recover from the pandemic.


4.3   As the NHS readies for the new Integrated Care Systems, the time is now to embed research across the UK’s healthcare system. The Health and Care Bill provides a once-in-a-decade opportunity to embed research at the heart of the NHS, by putting this ambition on a statutory footing and the NHS People Plan and HEE Long-Term Strategic Framework for Health & Social Care Workforce Planning provide a means to explore resource and capacity needs of research and take forward measures to support healthcare staff in participating in research.


For further information please contact Joe Edwards and Catriona Manville.



[1] Jonker et al., 2020. Patients admitted to more research-active hospitals have more confidence in staff and are better informed about their condition and medication: Results from a retrospective cross-sectional study. J Eval Clin Pract., 20 (1). Available online here.

[2] Jonker et al., 2018. The correlation between National Health Service trusts’ clinical trial activity and both mortality rates and Care Quality Commission ratings: a retrospective cross-sectional study. Public Health, 157. Available online here.

[3] National Institute for Health Research, 2022. Embedding a research culture. Available online here.

[4] Royal College of Physicians, 2020. Research for all? An analysis of clinical participation in research. Available online here.

[5] General Medical Council, 2018. Adapting, Coping, Compromising: full research report. Available online here.

[6] Cancer Research UK, 2021.  Creating Time for Research: Identifying and improving the capacity of healthcare staff to conduct research.  Available online: here

[7] Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, 2021. Clinical research: an opportunity for growth. Available online here.

[8] The Institute of Cancer Research, 2021. Cancer trial recruitment drops by 60 per cent during pandemic. Available online here.#


Jan 2022