Divvying up the costs of conducting research in the NHS funded by medical research charities is an intricate business. Who pays for that research nurse, their time in administering the extra treatment required in a clinical trial, the procedures and equipment needed as part of its conduct, the oversight and governance needed to ensure that things are done properly and with patient care uppermost in mind? When do these costs begin and end?
For both the NHS and charities the concern is to be able to demonstrate appropriate use of respective taxpayer or donor funds, for the purpose for which it has been intended; to have a system for the apportionment of costs which recognises the value and contribution of both partners to making trials happen and does not inadvertently disincentivise either because of perceived unfairness.
It is an issue which has been tussled over for a considerable period of time with the latest discussions dating back to well before I left the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC).
Happily the Department of Health and AMRC have now reached agreement and the final document – entitled AcoRD for short – can be found on the Department’s website. The document – which came out late on Friday – takes a principle-based approach and includes case studies to guide decision-makers.
It is an important document. Consistent and coherent implementation overseen by both will be crucial. The linkage of the application of the rules so firmly to those charities who have AMRC membership, is an important amplification of the status AMRC now holds in ensuring quality and excellence in the sector.