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CRN Greater Manchester shares local plan for 2022/23 and beyond



We are delighted to share with you details of our NIHR CRN Greater Manchester plan for the next year and beyond. We have listed some of the key activities we intend to carry out over this period, which promises to be a particularly important time for the research community as we implement the national Research Reset programme and continue to revitalise our portfolio of studies following the pandemic.  

This local plan addresses the needs of our region but has also been aligned with the Department of Health and Social Care’s vision for the Future of UK Clinical Research Delivery. We share this ambition to create a patient-centred, pro-innovation and data-enabled clinical research environment. By doing so, we want to empower everyone working across the health and care services to deliver research and enable everyone to take part in research that is relevant to them.

The NIHR is responsible for a range of nationally important programmes which are central to what we are trying to achieve at CRN Greater Manchester. These include priorities for research into multiple long-term conditions and working collectively with our under-served communities, which was the theme for NIHR CRN’s Strategic Leadership Summit

Other key national initiatives include ‘Find, Recruit, Follow-Up’, a service designed to enable health information to identify sites with suitable people and  offer participation opportunities. We are also firmly committed to expanding research activity in Primary and Community Care settings.   

As of April 2022, the NIHR changed its name to the National Institute for Health and Care Research. This commitment to social care research is a key part of our local strategy in Greater Manchester, East Cheshire and East Lancashire.

If there is anything in this plan you would like to get involved in, or discuss with us in more detail, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We promote a One CRN Greater Manchester approach and are keen to explore  more ways to work together.

We believe there are lots of exciting opportunities ahead for us to improve our region’s health and wellbeing through research, and we thank you for your continued support.

Best wishes, 

Sarah Fallon

Chief Operating Officer 

NIHR Clinical Research Network Greater Manchester

Who we are and how we can help

Here to support research delivery 

Clinical Research Network Greater Manchester is part of the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) which is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. With a budget of around £20 million per year, it is our role to support health and care organisations across Greater Manchester, East Cheshire and East Lancashire to carry out high-quality research with our regional population. We do this by meeting the costs of staff, facilities and equipment and by providing a range of services courtesy of our in-house departments. 

Our joint Study Support Service and Industry team

Often the first point of contact to help researchers and the Life Sciences Industry plan, set-up and deliver research to planned timescales and with the right number of participants to make the results meaningful. We support the lifecycle of a study through our Study Support Service which are provided for all studies eligible for our support. This team also handles our Business Development, which is key to increasing the number and variety of research opportunities open to our population. 

Contact us: 

Our Research Delivery Managers and Assistant Managers

Oversee our local portfolio of studies (in 2021/22, there were almost 900 studies which participants took part in). They each have different areas of focus, working collaboratively with research staff at our local health and care organisations and with our local research Specialty Leads to facilitate  efficient research delivery. 

Contact us: Email and ask for Joanne Collins, Amy Barratt, Dayle Roberts, Danielle Wilcock, Holly Monaghan or Emma Oughton. 

Our Workforce Learning and Development team

Specialises in working across a range of activities designed to ensure we have the right people, in the right number, in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills. Through this understanding, we support both our current and future research workforce in developing the knowledge and skills needed to deliver high quality research. We offer training pathways in a number of formats utilising the national learning platform NIHR Learn

Contact us: 

Our Direct Delivery Team

Works with local health and care organisations and study teams to provide research opportunities to people outside of hospital settings. This might include GP practices, care homes, schools and community centres. The team is made up of clinical staff including research nurses and practitioners, as well as non-clinical staff who support the set up and delivery of studies. 

Contact us: Email and ask for Jo Henry, Team Lead Research Nurse.

Our Secondary Care Delivery Team

Works with research departments at our local NHS trusts who can request their support to deliver studies in hospital settings. The team members hold  both clinical and administrative skills along with extensive knowledge in research delivery.

Contact us: Email and ask for Louise Woodhead, Team Lead Research Nurse.

Our Communications and Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement team

Manages all of our internal and external communications, whether directed at the public, staff or other partners, and our events. The team provides engagement opportunities so that participants and members of the public can help shape and improve research. 

Contact us: 

Our Information Management and Technology team 

Supports Business Intelligence activities for CRN Greater Manchester and staff across our research communities. This includes the provision of data analysis, such as the number of participants taking part in our studies and where, which is used to measure our performance and help make informed decisions.

Contact us: Email and ask for Craig Johnson, Head of Information Management and Technology 

Our Finance Team

Provides a financial and business planning service to facilitate the successful achievement of strategic objectives. The team is responsible for the overall management and performance of our allocated budget, in the region of £20 million. The team processes service support costs and funding allocations to partner organisations, and handles the pass through of excess treatment costs and routine audit sampling. 

Contact us: Email and ask for Anne-Marie McBride, Finance Manager. 

Our research vision and values 

We have established research ambitions for the region following a wide-reaching consultation with our research communities and system leaders. This has allowed us to take a fresh look at how we work and what we are seeking to achieve in collaboration with our partner organisations and members of the public. As a result, we have created our CRN Greater Manchester research delivery vision and values which have been central to devising our future plans.  

Our vision: is to change lives through research, by enabling the best care for our entire population through world-class collaboration, experiences and performance. 

Our values

  • Relevant Research, our commitment to fully understanding the care needs of our local population and finding the best ways to make a difference to citizens and communities through research. 

  • Inclusive Involvement, our focus on identifying underserved communities and recognising research involvement beyond participation.

  • Exceptional Experience, our investment to service improvements which advance the practice of research delivery for participants, staff, investigators, partners and sponsors. 

 Our values are now the starting points that help us focus on specific pieces of work which meet the needs of our population and care services. 

Our leadership structure

We have created three leadership positions to expand operational development across our values. Dr Abdul Ashish is our lead for Exceptional Experience, Professor Phil Kalra our lead for Relevant Research, and Professor Kathryn Abel our lead for Inclusive Involvement. They work closely with our CRN Greater Manchester senior management team of Professor Martin Gibson, Professor Andy Ustianowski (Co-Clinical Directors), Sarah Fallon and Susan Neeson (Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Chief Operating Officer) who lead our CRN service and provide leadership across our network.  

Our Specialty Leads 

We support research delivered in all health and care areas. Each is headed by one of our Specialty Leads who play a central role in promoting increased delivery activity and development across our region. They also coordinate regional specialty networks consisting of local research professionals who are based at sites across our local footprint and share the same area of expertise. To connect with a Specialty Lead, you can find the specialty leads' contact details on our website, or contact us at and specify your specialty area of interest.    

Our geography 

We work with all of the NHS trusts, Clinical Commissioning Groups, social care and non-NHS partners across Greater Manchester, East Cheshire and East Lancashire. You can see a full list at the end of this brochure and email us at if you are keen to be introduced to a research contact at any of our partner organisations.   

Ways to get involved

In addition to the research participation opportunities available at our partner organisations, we have a range of ‘consent to approach’ campaigns people can sign-up for. Here are a few…

Research for the Future

If you are aged 18+, regardless of your health background, you can sign-up to Research for the Future. Registering means you will be informed about local research opportunities you may wish to take part in. This service also helps researchers find suitable people for studies. 

Call 0161 206 3636


Go to 

Be Part of Research 

Be Part of Research is a website run by the NIHR and is designed to help people of all ages find and contact the teams working on research studies taking place near them, including studies happening across our region. 

Go to 

Join Dementia Research

Join Dementia Research is an NIHR service that enables you to register your interest and be matched with suitable dementia research studies taking place near you. 

Go to 

Become a Research Champion

We coordinate a group of local Research Champions and are always looking for more people to join the group. Research Champions are patients, carers, or members of the public who have taken part in a research study before, as well as those who haven’t. They are all passionate about getting more people involved in research so we can develop better care and treatment for everyone. Contact 

Care home research

Any care home interested in getting involved in research can join our Enabling Research in Care Homes (ENRICH) network. Contact to speak with our team or go to 

People and Partners 

We are committed to investing in and supporting individuals, departments and organisations across our regional research community in order to provide more relevant and accessible participation opportunities for everyone.


Our Champion initiatives empower local research colleagues who work in our partner organisations and members of the public. We will support them by equipping them with extra knowledge in some of our key areas of work, and with the skills to utilise NIHR tools in their day-to-day roles. 

We will offer Champion schemes for digital, training, business development, and health specialties. For example, we will expand our Business Intelligence Champion scheme into a Digital Champion scheme. This will cover not only data platforms, but also a broader array of digital solutions which can help research set-up and delivery run more efficiently. We will re-establish our Learning and Development Champions to carry out more staff research training sessions, and provide opportunities for other staff to get involved in delivering research training. We will also introduce a Business Development Champion scheme for local colleagues to work more with the Life Sciences Industry and enhance the delivery of commercial research at their own sites 

Through these initiatives, we will give staff in our local workforce the opportunity to broaden their skill sets as research professionals. Our Champions will be supported to share their knowledge with colleagues and develop expertise in their organisation while also raising awareness of the services CRN Greater Manchester can offer directly.  

Programme Lead: Lauren Gledhill, Industry Operations Manager - 


We aim to raise awareness of research and the CRN support services available to the research community across our region. This involves a programme of engagement initiatives with various stakeholders such as NHS trusts, Primary Care, Social Care, and not least the general public.   

We will strive to make research more visible in everyday life by attending community occasions enjoyed by our diverse communities. New for 2022, we will hold a  community-focused research event of our own to help representatives from across the research community come together with the public. These community initiatives will help to stimulate valuable conversations about research and provide ways for people to get involved. 

We are working with a social enterprise company to co-produce an educational book designed to introduce the concept of research to children at an early stage and encourage them to play an active role in research. 

We also plan to bring together secondary care and primary care in the delivery of research, in order to encourage the growth of research outside of hospital settings and make research more accessible and inclusive in our region.

Our engagement plan is designed to raise awareness of the value of research and the role it can play in everyday life. Increasing the awareness of research and building trusted relationships with local organisations, communities and leaders will help to increase research participation and pave the way for research to thrive, leading to improved health and care for all our communities to enjoy.

Programme Lead: Holly Monaghan, Assistant Research Delivery Manager - 


We aim to recognise and reward excellence in our network to inspire future world-class outcomes for the benefit of our patient population. We also want to regularly say thank you to our research workforce. 

Central to this will be the return of our Greater Manchester Research Awards, which will take place face-to-face on the evening of 29 September 2022 following a two year break due to the pandemic. We are also introducing the CRN Greater Manchester Research Certificate of Achievement - a new scheme that will allow us to formally recognise excellence in our network throughout the year, not just in the award season. 

We believe that where organisations, teams and individuals deliver exceptional research services they should be recognised for their contributions. By celebrating their achievements and publicising them as examples of best practice, we aim to reinforce what good looks like and inspire more successes across our health and care system. 

Programme Lead: Janet Eastwood, Head of Communications - 


We are committed to increased inclusion and diversity across our research community. Our ambition is to further embed research in all health and social care and improve access for residents, particularly underserved groups, across our region.

To help us address inequalities in participation, we will be working with delivery teams to record data that helps us to better understand which members of communities have access to research opportunities and which do not. We will create a stock communications package of short video clips with local influencers from a broad range of backgrounds to stress the value of participation and make these available for all partners to utilise. We will also work with specific underserved communities, starting with a concerted campaign of events in collaboration with Manchester’s British Muslim Heritage Centre to gain valuable insight into how we can deliver relevant research experiences for our local Muslim population. 

Our increased understanding of local citizens’ perspectives on research and their barriers to participation will be recorded and used to inform how we, and our partner organisations, can engage with our local communities in relevant ways. The information we capture will help us address participation inequalities in our region and work towards more equitable access to research for everyone. 

Programme Lead: Craig Johnson, Head of Information Management and Technology - 

One CRN 

We will strengthen working relationships and collaborations, both regionally and nationally, within the NIHR’s Clinical Research Network to develop and deliver research together. 

We are exploring opportunities for work placements for our own CRN Greater Manchester staff who are keen to explore roles within the wider NIHR, and for regional colleagues interested in experiencing roles in our network. This can help provide support for short-term projects and an injection of new skills, while also developing the careers of our staff. We will work together on a supra-regional basis with our fellow northern CRNs to address our shared health and care opportunities and challenges. Respiratory disorders are a particular area of focus and, through our plans for a collaborative approach to this specialty area with CRN North West Coast, we aim to create a team of investigators who can share intelligence and work towards increasing the portfolio of respiratory studies as well as supporting early career researchers. 

Citizens in our region and its outlying areas, quite naturally, do not see NIHR organisational boundaries between Greater Manchester and our neighbouring networks and, where possible, we should approach delivery opportunities in the same way by working collaboratively for the benefit of participants. 

Programme Lead: Joanne Collins, Research Delivery Manager - 


We are committed to ensuring that our research delivery workforce is well-prepared and able to excel. We are also committed to the  development of those who are new to research and are likely to be part of our future workforce in delivery and leadership roles.  

We plan to build new relationships with professionals working across the health and social care sectors and we will expand our range of learning resources to support researchers working outside of NHS settings. We will create a revised offer of support for those who are relatively new to research, those wishing to develop a research interest and those leading research delivery. We will create resources to help staff understand the support offered at all entry levels. In addition, we will promote successes from our established researcher development programmes to demonstrate the professional value of following a path in research and keep our alumni connected with our CRN teams to provide ongoing support as their careers progress. We have part-funded places on a local clinical trials coordination course so that across the network, Trust-based coordinators can function at the same high level – regardless of the size or maturity of their team – and enhance research in their specialty area, team and organisation.

We will be piloting workforce-related conversations and activities within our own core team to assess potential improvements in our overall approach to recruitment and retention. If these activities prove to be of value and are transferable, we will widen the scope of the project to include our partner organisations. We also plan to support our Clinical Research Practitioner community through registration with the Academy of Healthcare Science, to give public reassurance of role and capability.

With a focus on our wider workforce and those who are new to research, we will be preparing our region’s future workforce and study pipeline through a number of targeted projects. Our approach will build capacity and capability in public health and social care research, and individuals and teams across our partner organisations will feel supported in becoming research-active. 

Programme Lead: Mary Speake, Workforce Learning and Development Lead -  

Portfolio Progression 

CRN Greater Manchester is committed to developing a broad research portfolio which is relevant to our local population needs and provides life-enhancing opportunities that our citizens can access near to where they live. 

Life Sciences Industry 

We will develop our relationship with the Life Sciences Industry sector to enhance our network’s ability to attract and deliver more commercially sponsored or funded research studies. By doing so, we aim to offer participants access to the latest treatments right here in our region.  

We are committed to bringing more delivery opportunities to our region by building more relationships with local, national and international companies and ensuring that data on their experiences is captured from all stakeholders. We will have a particular focus on encouraging more commercial research in community and social care settings in order to grow these areas, using digital solutions to enhance delivery. 

We aim to collaborate with local investigators, the Life Sciences Industry and Small Medium Enterprises to encourage the use of digital solutions such as Artificial Intelligence and Robotics within our research community. We will work with Industry and our partner organisations locally to focus on the time spent in the set-up and delivery of research and look at ways we can become more productive and effective. 

In the same way, we will incorporate commercial research into our ‘high throughout’ model which will allow large numbers of participants to get involved in more than one study during their visit, increasing efficiency and making the most of people’s gift of time. We will also work with partners to understand how we can deliver decentralised trials which involve fewer physical site visits for participants. 

Overall, we aim to carry out more commercial studies with a spread across all of our partners in their different health and care settings. 

Programme Lead: Amy Barratt, Research Delivery Manager - 

Research data systems  

We are developing our systems to display additional data which empowers the local research community to proactively target the health and care needs of our population. 

To achieve this, we plan to develop new dashboards in our bespoke Greater Manchester version of NIHR’s business intelligence system, the Open Data Platform (ODP). The first will look at disease prevalence and allow our research community to measure the percentage of the local population participating in NIHR portfolio studies by specialty disease area. This extra intelligence on prevalence will also enable our team to work closely with the Life Sciences sector and target areas of need. 

Another new function will allow us to capture data which records more than just the recruitment of participants. This is important because involvement in research can take many forms and, by understanding the different ways in which people take part, we can improve future participant experiences. We will also introduce a data system which enables the research community to recognise high performing regional study sites. We will proactively share their success with peers delivering the same or similar research to drive efficiencies across the region. 

Collectively, these enhanced data systems will support our partner organisations in targeting specific health and care needs in their local areas. This will help ensure that research delivery across our local sites is relevant to the residents whose outcomes they are seeking to improve. 

Programme Lead: Kat Moklak-Dutton, Business Development Manager - 

Health and care specialties

We aim to enhance our services in order to maximise opportunities for all citizens to get involved in research, regardless of their health or care needs. 

We will develop a portfolio of studies for people living with multiple long term conditions who may be interested in research that spans different areas of specialty - including long COVID, mental health, diabetes, respiratory and heart disease and neurological conditions. We will look to invest in our local researchers and research teams, by providing support and advice in the early stages of study development, to target local health population needs. We will identify areas of strength and areas for development across our region within all our disease specialty areas. In doing so, we aim to increase opportunities for all, benefiting from a consistent ‘One Greater Manchester’ approach.  

Our research activity in this area will address the health needs of our population to ensure opportunities are relevant and, by bringing research in different specialty areas closer together, we will provide further participation options for patients living with more than one long-term condition - an ambition of  strategic focus by NIHR at a national level. 

Programme Lead: Danielle Wilcock, Assistant Research Delivery Manager - 

Investing together   

Working with our research community, we will deliver projects aligned to our core values  of Relevant Research, Inclusive Involvement and Exceptional Experience to ensure we are all moving in the same direction to improve lives through research.

We have committed substantial investment in 2022/23 through a new, annual funding call initiative. This is already supporting 20 projects which local partners have devised in order to transform delivery models. Outcomes from each will be shared in our annual showcase so everyone can learn from their successes and challenges.

We will explore identifying solutions that provide equitable access to research opportunities for the under-served communities and those with major health needs. Workstreams for each value are now led by our Theme Leads, which are new roles carried out by experienced investigators who focus our research community in these key areas. 

We are also empowering our CRN Greater Manchester core team staff to become catalysts for change through a monthly innovation scheme. This provides staff with protected time to channel their unique regional perspectives and develop concepts to address unmet needs across our local research system, in collaboration with colleagues and our senior leadership team.

These changes to our structure and processes are already beginning to embed a cross-network culture that allows our research community to think innovatively about how we deliver relevant, inclusive research which involves exceptional experiences. We will provide leadership, funding and time to empower our partners to work cohesively towards enhancing delivery in these key areas.

Programme Lead: Anne-Marie McBride, Finance Manager - 

Practice and Process 

Our response to the pandemic has demonstrated how we can work more efficiently with great success. CRN Greater Manchester is putting in place systems that allow us to embrace new ways of working for the benefit of our research communities incorporating participants, staff and systems. 


Our digital strategy forms a big part of the foundations of how we run as a network. This programme of work aims to increase our productivity, efficiency and reputation as leaders in delivery of research. The research landscape is constantly changing, so our digital strategy needs to be agile and adaptable to address both expected and unforeseen changes.

An effective digital programme has the potential to make immediate and long-term positive impact to our service. A platform of digital systems, where all stakeholders can work simultaneously, will create a more harmonious relationship between CRN Greater Manchester and our partners.  Projects will include: 

  • The creation of a digital outlook platform, where all stakeholders can understand the role CRN Greater Manchester can play in every spoke of the research cycle and vice versa. This interactive platform will be accessible to all stakeholders conducting research, where answers to specific questions, will filter and tailor the advice/guidance given.

  • Further development of our site identification system, which was so successful in placing COVID-19 studies in our region.  This will lead to increased research participation opportunities due to effective identification and better placement of studies within our region. Further work will also be undertaken to enable the potential for a study feasibility to be conducted online by any stakeholder, anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

  • The creation of a data studio to improve useability of data from our Participant in Research Experience Survey. We want to work more with all partners to improve participant experience based on the survey results, so the development of a data secure sharing platform will enable specific issues to be rectified, and allow trends of best practice to be identified and shared across our region. .

A successfully implemented digital strategy will be one that answers the challenges of today, but also is futureproofed for the potential challenges of the future. It will be a landscape where all partner organisations and stakeholders can easily address their needs to create a more streamlined CRN Greater Manchester service.

Programme Lead: Dayle Roberts, Assistant Research Delivery Manager - 

Transforming delivery

We are looking beyond traditional settings and models in order to make research more inclusive. By implementing learning from our successes during the pandemic we aim to improve delivery efficiency and study set-up . 

Our research community responded to the COVID-19 emergency superbly well and demonstrated studies can be delivered in record time, with outstanding results. We will be channelling the efficiencies behind these successes to ensure the positives we have taken from the pandemic period, where possible, become business as usual. 

Programme Lead: Susan Neeson, Deputy Chief Operating Officer - 

Education and training

We are committed to delivering a varied package of accredited training to support the professional development of our multidisciplinary workforce across the region, from healthcare professionals delivering research with participants, to Principal Investigators and future research teams. 

Our research workforce, new and existing, will be able to access new training material to develop the knowledge and skills needed to deliver research across more settings, including community and non-NHS settings, which will improve access to research for our local population. This will maintain high standards of quality and safety during delivery, resulting in excellent study data and exceptional participant experiences. We will also be reviewing the content of our online learning management system

We will introduce training sessions in finance processes. Our region's research workforce will be able to attend these educational sessions designed to help everyone gain confidence in the numerous tasks which involve research finance. 

Programme Lead: Emma Oughton, Assistant Research Delivery Manager - 

Get in touch

Is there anything in our plan that has caught your eye? Something that ties in with work you are doing, or plan to do? Have you spotted an opportunity to collaborate with us? Or would you just like to find out more information about any of our planned activities? 

If so, we would love to hear from you. Except where a named person’s email address is provided in relation to an activity in this brochure, the best way to get in touch is via our single point of contact email address which is monitored throughout every working day:

To help our team assist you in the best possible way, please outline which activity or person your query relates to and state the page number on which it features in this brochure. 

You can arrange to visit us in our Manchester office, which is also available if you need space to meet with colleagues or partners to discuss NIHR CRN research delivery opportunities. We are based at Citylabs 1.0, 2nd Floor, Nelson Street, Manchester, M13 9NQ

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Our local partner organisations 

Our local partner trusts are: 

  • Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

  • Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust)

  • Stockport NHS Foundation Trust

  • The Christie NHS Foundation Trust

  • Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

  • Bolton NHS Foundation Trust

  • Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust

  • Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

  • Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

  • Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust

  • North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust

  • East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust

  • East Cheshire NHS Trust

We work with local care organisations in all of our communities across Greater Manchester, East Cheshire and East Lancashire. This includes:

  • Community mental health / Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service

  • Prisons

  • Voluntary sector

  • Community Hospitals

  • Residential care, social care and domiciliary care

  • Health visitors / schools

  • GP practices / federations / networks

  • Urgent treatment centres

  • Community nurses

  • NHS hospice care

  • Urgent care at home teams

  • Community based clinics

  • Other independent contractors e.g. pharmacy

  • Specialist community based clinics e.g. sexual health / drug / alcohol

  • Local authorities

  • Charities