One of the many good things to come out of the establishment of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) in the early noughties, is the registration of UK clinical trials units and the bringing together of these units into a network.
Registration, which takes the form of an application and then review by an independent international panel (including public and patient representatives), demonstrates that a unit has the expertise and capability to run multi-centre trials. Units either get full registration or provisional registration depending on the assessment of the panel. Having sat on the very first panel I can tell you that the examination is robust and not all get through. I think there are currently 48 registered units in all.
Anyway, the UKCRC Clinical Trials Unit C0-ordinating Centre (UKCRC CTU CC) has today issued a call to all registered units to apply for review and renewal, and to new units to apply for registration for the first time.
The other benefit that flows from this process is that it is a way of identifying how units can improve and strengthen what they do in the future. The registered trials units then meet as a network on a regular basis to make this happen. You can see a report of their last meeting on the UKCRC CTU CC website here.
This is the sort of underpinning quality assurance work that, although not immediately obvious to you or I, is important if we are to be able to give the public confidence that these things are being run well. A couple of years ago, this work was hanging in the balance because of various strictures not least finance. So it is good that it has survived the worst and that the major research funders and trials units have come together to keep it all going.