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CRN East Midlands Budget Planning: 2023/24



The NIHR CRN Coordinating Centre (CC) has confirmed that Local Clinical Research Networks are to receive “flat cash” budgets in 2023/24.  For the East Midlands, this has been confirmed as £23,285,315. There is currently a discussion regarding an additional uplift in respect of the NHS pay deal, however this is not factored into this figure at present.

For the past two financial years, the budget for the vast majority of CRN East Midlands  partner organisations has been a “roll-over” allocation, alongside a strategic fund (2021/22 for Covid-19 research; 2022/23 for under-served research priorities).  This has been mirrored across the vast majority of LCRNs across England.  Prior to this, a formula driven approach was applied to partner level budget setting, referencing recruitment and performance activity, alongside historic allocations. The benefits of a roll-over budget is to aid stability and planning.  However, the downside is there is little incentive for improvement, nor clear link with the partner’s financial requirements to deliver the activity for the coming year, as the budget is linked to the previous year’s outturn.

Guidance from the NIHR CRNCC is to ensure local planning supports the Network and its partners, to deliver the CRN objectives and priorities in line with the Host and Partner contracts. It is therefore essential that CRN priorities and key work-streams are sufficiently supported within the financial planning process. In order to achieve this, there must be joint planning between the CRN and the constituent partner organisations. Underpinning this is the relationship between the CRN and Partners, typically through the designated Senior Team Links, along with wider management and clinical leadership.

Budget planning discussions and agreement

In order to ensure transparency and openness regarding budget planning across the region, a range of approaches were discussed with partners through the CRN Partnership Group.  This discussion took place following publication of an options paper (October 2022), which was considered through a formal meeting in November 2022. 

It was agreed that NHS Partner organisations would be funded at 100% of 2022/23 levels. Within the East Midlands, as our funding approach treats primary care as a “Partner Organisation” (for budget planning purposes), this 100% funding commitment also extends to the primary care budget.  It was considered that this would give significant stability and allow partners to plan the year ahead in good time. 

In addition to this “pass through” approach for NHS partners, there would need to be the same approach for the CRN core/central team.  Further conversations would be required with partners outside of the NHS, such as across social care, public health, hospices, Universities, schools and other partners, although there is no intention to reduce this investment. 

Additionally, a strategic fund of 2% of total income (c.£460k) would be retained to support under-served research projects, many of which have begun in 2022/23, and plan to continue into 2023/24.  

Due to a small amount of funding in 2022/23 for a handful of partners which has been previously notified as non-recurrent into 2023/24, this leaves a modest balance (c.£300k) which will be utilised towards a number of planned regional initiatives, which require some further work, although broadly include: primary care and dental expansion work; work to support the research role of the 5 regional ICBs and a small centrally managed contingency which would be distributed throughout the year as need arises - new studies, national priorities etc.

Partner level budgets

With respect to the partner income, each year the CRN is committed to transparency in the approach to funding, and provides below the CRN partner level delivery budget allocations. There are some smaller partner organisations, outside of the NHS, that are supported separately, as we grow research in partnership with them. Additionally, funding is not included below for HEI partners in the region, as these payments are dependent on Specialty and Clinical Divisional Lead roles, which vary over time, and where costs are agreed on a rolling basis.

Table 1: Partner organisation budgets for 2023/24


Indicative 2023/24 Partner Budgets £

Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust


Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust


Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust


East Midlands Ambulance Service


Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust


Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust


Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust


Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust


Northampton General Hospitals NHS Trust


Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust


Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust


Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust


Primary Care


Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust


United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust


University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust


University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust


Elizabeth Moss

CRN East Midlands Chief Operating Officer

April 2023