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CRN Greater Manchester Strategic Impact Report 2022/23



CRN Greater Manchester is proud to have been part of our region’s research community which made it possible for over 51,200 participants to be part of research in 2022/23. This activity took place across more than 1,000 studies covering all health and care specialty areas, with a greater emphasis than ever on delivery in community settings. 

This regional effort in Greater Manchester, East Cheshire and East Lancashire fed into the NIHR’s national statistics, which showed that almost one million participants across England took part in research last year. That is the equivalent of over 100 people every hour. 

This all paints a positive picture of research delivery, especially when we remind ourselves this has been achieved in a post-COVID landscape. Together, our network has bounced back very well from the unavoidable pandemic disruption, with a local approach in line with the UK Clinical Research Recovery, Resilience and Growth Programme. This has been possible thanks to our fantastic researchers and research teams, our first-class facilities and the altruism of the public. 

We have plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the future as we approach an exciting new chapter. In October 2024 the 15 NIHR Clinical Research Networks will change to become 12 NIHR Research Delivery Networks. As part of this change, CRN Greater Manchester will merge with our neighbouring CRN North West Coast to become the North West Research Delivery Network. This means our network will serve the entire North West and more than 7 million people, presenting us with a wealth of opportunities as we become the nation’s biggest network with a population larger than many European countries. We look forward to sharing further details of this exciting transition with you. 

As the transition progresses, we will continue to have a focus on network development projects. These areas of work reflect the strategic importance of developing life sciences research, targeting the health needs of our population, taking a broader view of research for Multiple Long Term Conditions, and meeting the needs of our underserved communities.

We believe there are exciting times ahead for us to improve the North West’s health and wellbeing through research. Thank you for your support, and thank you to everyone who has contributed to the successes outlined in this report in 2022/23.

Best wishes, 

CRN Greater Manchester Senior Leadership team

Sarah Fallon – Chief Operating Officer

Susan Neeson – Deputy Chief Operating Officer

Professor Martin Gibson – Co-Clinical Director

Professor Andy Ustianowski – Co-Clinical Director

10 key highlights from 2022/23

CRN Greater Manchester had many achievements in the past year. Here are 10 highlights, as chosen by our core team.

  • Three global first, three European first and nine UK first participants were recruited on to studies delivered in our region, showing our world-class ability to set up studies efficiently for the benefit of patients and the global progress of health and care. 
  • In collaboration with a local author, we created a children’s book which follows a young person who overcomes their fears of taking part in a study. We are working with schools and NHS partners to help the book reach as many children as possible. 
  • We held our first Health Research Festival in Levenshulme, Manchester, as part of our strategy to take more research opportunities into our communities. The event was a great success and we are now taking the festivals to different boroughs in our region in collaboration with partners.
  • We hosted 10 ambitious A-Level students on a Nuffield Research Placement. During their packed two-week visit, the 17-year-olds worked on research projects challenging them to analyse and interpret real-life NIHR data, while also experiencing life on a busy research-active NHS trust site. 
  • By taking research directly into our South Asian communities, our Delivery Team has provided countless opportunities for people of Bangladeshi and Pakistani heritage to be part of the Genes and Health Study. Over 1,000 people have participated, and in the process we have made research visible in numerous settings such as mosques and festivals. 
  • Our Core Team was shortlisted for Clinical Site Team of the Year at the PharmaTimes International Clinical Researcher of the Year Awards 2023. At the London ceremony attended by research staff from over 30 countries, we received the Bronze Award after impressing judges with how we adapted our successful pandemic initiatives to enhance delivery of non-COVID research. 
  • Our network’s contribution to the UK’s programme to find COVID vaccines for all continued with the recruitment of almost 200 participants to one of the world’s first Omicron-specific variant vaccines. This Moderna vaccine received regulatory approval, making the UK the first country to approve a dual vaccine which tackles the original Covid virus and the newer Omicron variant.
  • Greater Manchester played a key role in research which showed that a 60-minute iron infusion every one to two years could help people with heart failure avoid being admitted to hospital. Almost 140 local participants were part of the landmark study which was delivered across four of our NHS hospitals and promises to benefit patients worldwide. 
  • Our network was the highest recruiting region to a UK-wide trial which in October 2022 concluded that giving a meningitis vaccine to 14 to 19-year-olds helps protect people of all ages. Over 5,000 teenagers from our region provided throat swabs to delivery teams from three of our NHS trusts to support the research. 
  • In a challenging UK environment for commercial research delivery, our number of active commercial studies grew by almost 20% from 219 to 262, opening up many new opportunities for participants. This drew high praise in the major independent review of UK commercial trials published by Lord O’Shaughnessy. 

Chapter 1: Who we are and how we can help

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 £22 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.

Study Support Service and Industry team

Our joint Study Support Service and Industry team is 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, within delivery timelines. We support the lifecycle of a study through our free of charge services 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: 


Research Delivery Managers and Assistant Research Delivery Managers 

Our Research Delivery Managers and Assistant Research Delivery Managers oversee our local portfolio of studies. In 2022/23, there were over 1,000 studies that local people took part in. They each support different specialty areas but also work 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, Liam Taylor, Dayle Roberts, Danielle Wilcock, Holly Monaghan or Emma Oughton.

Workforce Learning and Development team

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, to ensure high quality research delivery can take place. The team supports our current and future research workforce in developing the knowledge and skills needed. Training is offered in a number of formats utilising the national learning platform NIHR Learn

The team also manages our Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement programme. 

Our aim is to improve inclusive involvement and engagement in research in our region. This is done through three main workstreams: (i) Collecting and acting on participant feedback through the Participants in Research Experience Survey (ii) Working with community organisations through the Research Ready Communities programme and (iii) our Research Champion volunteers who spread the research message. 

Contact us: 

Delivery Team 

Our Delivery Team works with local health and care organisations, study teams and communities to provide research opportunities to people in a wide variety of settings. This includes GP practices, community pharmacies, care homes, schools and community centres, as well as hospitals. The team is made up of clinical staff including research nurses and practitioners, plus non-clinical staff who support the set up and delivery of studies. 

Contact us: Email and ask for Jo Henry, Delivery Team Matron. 

Director of Nursing

Janette Dunkerley, the Assistant Chief Nurse for Research and Innovation at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, is our Director of Nursing for CRN Greater Manchester and CRN North West Coast. Janette helps our partner organisations strengthen the support and leadership for NIHR-funded nurses, midwives and allied health professionals working across health and care sectors, to facilitate the advancement of these professions across the region and within the national NIHR infrastructure. 

Communications team

Our Communications team manages all of our internal and external communications, whether directed at the public, staff or other partners, and campaigns. The team also leads on the management of our events and can support our local partners with their communications. 

Contact us: 

Information Management and Technology team

Our Information Management and Technology team supports Business Intelligence activities for CRN Greater Manchester and staff across our research communities. Business Intelligence helps our network turn study and recruitment data into information that leads to insight. This is done by providing stakeholders with the tools they need to access and interpret data, which drives decision making and action, and ensures the efficient delivery of studies. 

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

Finance Team

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 £22 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 vision and values 

Successes highlighted in this Strategic Impact Report are split into chapters for each of our CRN Greater Manchester values. Along with our vision, these values were agreed in 2021 in consultation with our research community. This shared regional ambition encourages commitment and collaboration across all of our partners in the health and care system. 

Our vision

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 health and care needs of our local population and finding the best ways to make a difference to citizens and communities through research. Led by Professor Phil Kalra.  

Inclusive Involvement, our focus on identifying underserved communities and recognising research involvement beyond participation. Led by Professor Kathryn Abel.

Exceptional Experience, our investment to service improvements which advance the practice of research delivery for participants, staff, investigators, communities, partners and sponsors. Led by Dr Abdul Ashish.  

Who we work with

We work with all of the NHS trusts, local care organisations, primary care, social care, public health and non-NHS partners across Greater Manchester, East Cheshire and East Lancashire. A full list is below. Email us at if you are keen to be introduced to a research contact at any of our partner organisations.

Our local partner trusts are:

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust

Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

East Cheshire NHS Trust

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust

Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust

North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust

Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust

Stockport NHS Foundation Trust

Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 

Local Care Organisations

We work with local care organisations in all of our communities across our region. This includes:

Community mental health / Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service


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


Chapter 2: Relevant Research

We partnered with patients, service users, carers and communities to improve the relevance, quality and impact of our research

Integrated Care System Best Practice

CRN Greater Manchester was held up as an example of best practice for the way in which we collaborate with partner organisations in the Greater Manchester health and care system. The NHS Confederation published a case study on how we have created “a culture of shared learning, collaboration and innovation”. This featured in a guide of hints and learnings designed to support healthcare organisations across the country improve outcomes for the communities they serve. The guide pointed to our close relationship with the Greater Manchester Integrated Health System and picked out a number of highlights. 

One of which was our Greater Manchester NIHR Oversight Board which brings together leadership from all of the NIHR organisations operating in our region. The board has created opportunities for co-creation and maximised resources for care development that is both relevant and inclusive to local people and provider partners. Another highlight was our integrated leadership, including the fact we have representation on our local Integrated Care System primary care board.  

Enhancing community partnerships for research in Greater Manchester 

CRN Greater Manchester contributed to our Integrated Care System’s Research Engagement Network Development (REND) programme following an award of £100,000 from NHS England. RENDs are designed to grow local research networks with local stakeholders. 

Our local programme had two objectives. The first was to co-produce improved approaches for creative engagement in partnership with voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSE) to build trust with communities currently more excluded from research. The second was to develop an improved network-wide system for monitoring and evaluating diverse and inclusive involvement and participation in research. The outcomes have been shared in a report which features reflections on what is needed for sustainable research engagement networks and a network system for monitoring and evaluating involvement and participation. 

Supporting surgeons to follow research careers 

Every year CRN Greater Manchester supports the Minimal Access Surgery in Lancashire and South Cumbria Conference, which brings together surgeons, trainees, academics and industry representatives from across the Integrated Care System. The jam-packed event, held in Bolton, showcases original research and surgical innovation led by colleagues in our region and has created a year-round community to support staff in this specialty area. The 2022 event was a great success, as it encouraged regional collaboration and allowed attendees to better understand the regional resources and infrastructure available to them to develop their research careers.The conference is hosted by the Blackburn Research Innovation and Development Group in General Surgery (BRIDGES) from East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust. 

We have worked together to recover, build resilience and accelerate regional growth 

Growing research in ambulance and emergency settings

The trauma and emergency care specialty initially struggled to re-establish research across the region in the months following the pandemic disruption. However 2022/23 signalled a recovery through studies such as SHED, which looked at how acute headaches are dealt with by emergency departments and recruited across the Salford and East Cheshire areas. Another example was seen in the delivery of PARAMEDIC-3, which recruited through the ambulance service and looked at the most effective way to treat someone when their heart suddenly stops working out of hospital by giving drugs through a vein or into the bone. Learnings from this study will help to improve future treatment of people who have a cardiac arrest. 

New research hub paves way for community delivery

A previously unused health clinic was transformed into a bespoke research hub based in the community. Our colleagues at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust opened this new delivery site in Ashton-in-Makerfield in March 2023 during a visit from local MP Yvonne Forvargue. The hub’s unveiling represented a key objective in the trust’s strategy, to improve the visibility of research in a community setting. The research team was able to equip the facility with new and essential clinical research equipment thanks to CRN Greater Manchester funding. Richard Mundon, the trust’s Director of Strategy and Planning, said: “Having such a facility embedded within the community provides more opportunities to collaborate with NHS colleagues working in community and primary care, as well as an attractive alternative to research participants attending hospital.”

Recovering and Resetting research 

To address the post-pandemic challenges of resource and capability across the research delivery system, the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England led the national Reset programme. Regionally, CRN Greater Manchester provided leadership on a national level through our Chief Operating Officer, Sarah Fallon, and supported Reset locally through enhanced initiation and delivery processes with our local Chief Investigators and sites. 

Our network held productive portfolio reviews with local non-commercial sponsors and worked with partner leadership teams. This resulted in 275 intentions recorded regionally and a reduction in the number of Reset studies identified in set-up as a result of increased CRN infrastructure for set up coordination and support services across partner sites. We made additional support available for Reset studies, such as a study looking at remote monitoring of rheumatoid arthritis. 

Our own Delivery Team has also been involved in Reset delivery, including support for multiple studies including one looking at helping patients improve their blood pressure control. At the end of 2022/23, our Research Delivery Managers and Industry Facilitators were continuing to work with study teams to enable delivery to the 83 studies identified as off-track and needing to be addressed. The Reset programme continues nationally to make portfolio delivery achievable within planned timelines and sustainable within the resource and capability we currently have in the care system. 

We increased health and care opportunities in areas and populations that have the most need

Improving the nation’s understanding of adult food allergies 

It is estimated that over 40% of adults and 50% of children in the UK have one or more allergies, and the number of people with allergies is rising by about 5% every year. Many of these people are told to avoid the foods they are allergic or intolerant to, but this is not always easy to do. It can also be expensive if they have to buy special allergen-free foods. Our Delivery Team has supported a Food Standards Agency-funded study which for the first time in over 25 years is aiming to find out how food allergies and intolerance among adults in the UK have changed since the early 1990s. 

We worked with GP practices in Wythenshawe and Longsight to invite patients from these diverse patient populations with low deprivation index scores. Translated patient information sheets and interpreters were used to overcome language barriers and we utilised our Research Van to ensure participation opportunities where GP practice space was unavailable. Through our high throughout model (see p, insert when known), over three weekends in November 2022 over 70 patients took part in just six days. This would have taken over 15 days in normal clinical practice. Overall, more than 1,000 participants have now been involved in the study. This is helping to update national data and find ways to make food allergy policies and treatments better for the adults who need them. 

Supporting hospice research 

Latest figures showed more than 6% of deaths in Greater Manchester occur in a hospice. In an important step, our Delivery Team supported its first hospice research study. Research in this field increases the evidence base to support health and care services to help people at the end of their lives to live as well as possible and to die with dignity, compassion and comfort. 

At Bolton Hospice, we supported a study looking at whether giving patients fluids in the last days of life via a drip is effective at preventing them from developing delirium. The hospice identified this as a study they wanted their patients to be part of and requested our support. The issue investigated by the study often occurs at end-of-life, and causes distress to patients, families, and staff. It also often means the patient requires sedation in the last days of life. This research is also assessing whether fluids via a drip affects other end-of-life problems, such as shortness of breath. 

Improving research opportunities for patients with cervical cancer 

The incidence of cervical cancer is 7% higher in Greater Manchester than the rest of England. However, research in our region has traditionally focused on other gynaecological cancers. Last year, we supported our flagship cancer trust with Strategic Funding for a dedicated cervical cancer research nurse to promote and expand the portfolio of studies in this field, to meet the needs of local patients. 

Drawing from outpatients clinics attended by women from across Greater Manchester, this has improved patient referrals and identified more suitable participants for treatment trials. Recruitment targets more than doubled and women had opportunities to access therapies not available as standard of care. The first UK participant to the CRAIN treatment trial was also recruited in Greater Manchester. This is a prime example of our CRN infrastructure targeting regional health needs of the population. 

Manchester-led research could diagnose diabetes in A&E 

It is expected over 25% of people living in Greater Manchester will develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime. This makes them two-and-a-half times more likely to experience heart failure and twice more likely to have a heart attack compared to people without diabetes. Around £400 million is spent each year in the city region treating health complications associated with diabetes.

A home-grown study is aiming to address this challenge by identifying diabetes earlier in people. Patients who are seen in A&E already have routine bloods taken and we know many people come to hospital with unknown hyperglycaemia, or high blood sugar. Therefore, in Tameside staff are asking A&E and Acute Medical Unit patients to consent to the FIND-IT study, which involves their blood being checked for impaired glucose tolerance, or ‘pre-diabetes’. Over 2,600 participants have already been part of this study which is helping us learn whether this is a good screening measure for the diagnosis of diabetes. The research has the potential to spot type 2 diabetes early and set patients on treatment plans which can improve health outcomes and reduce long-term strain on the NHS.

Study shows 60-minute iron infusion can avert heart failure admissions

Heart failure accounts for 4,300 hospital admissions and 34,000 bed days in Greater Manchester per year. It stops the heart pumping blood around the body as well as it should and if symptoms worsen can lead to long stays in hospital, with 1-in-10 admissions resulting in death. 

However, our region played a key role in research showing that an hour-long iron infusion into the vein every one to two years could help people with heart failure avoid being admitted to hospital and improve quality of life. Almost 140 participants across four hospitals from our region took part in the IRONMAN study and two of our senior investigators were co-organisers of the study, the results of which attracted international headlines. 

We collaborated with sponsors and researchers to achieve accessible and decentralised study designs to enable the best local delivery plans   

Increasing flexibility with ‘high throughput’ weekend clinics

We introduced a pioneering ‘high throughput’ model based on our experience of carrying out several large scale COVID-19 vaccine trials. This innovation has enabled us to invite large numbers of participants to bespoke research clinics, often outside of traditional hours, and recruit dozens of participants in a day. Our Delivery Team applied this model to the Immune Mediated Inflammatory Diseases (IMID) BioResource study (a study prioritised for Reset) in collaboration with our host trust. IMIDs, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are a wide group of common conditions which cause inflammation in the body and this biobank will support a range of research in this field. 

After we invited 800 eligible people, more than 100 took part at clinics held over three weekends in August 2022. The majority of sites typically do not recruit this many participants in an entire year via the traditional method of opportunistic recruiting from outpatient clinics. Our process from screening to completion of the clinics took only eight weeks, allowing us to quickly meet targets and focus on other studies prioritised by the Reset programme. Our Delivery Team has developed a suite of helpful templates, maps and venues to help other teams use this delivery approach and you can contact for further information. 

Self-help therapy helps Harriet recover following open heart surgery

A new home-based self-help psychological therapy was found to reduce anxiety and depression in people with heart disease. This was thanks to a Manchester-led study which looked at a therapy called Metacognitive Therapy (MCT). The study was conducted in the context that heart and circulatory diseases kill more than one-in-four people in Greater Manchester. People with heart disease, or who have had a serious heart problem, often experience stress and anxiety which, if not properly treated, increases the risk of further heart problems and even death. 

The MCT-PATHWAY study showed that MCT can be delivered both as a group-based and home-based treatment, widening patient choice for mental health support in cardiac rehabilitation services.  Harriet Dawson, from North Manchester, was 22 years old when she had open heart surgery following the discovery of a hole in her heart. She then took part in the MCT-PATHWAY study. She said: “There weren’t many resources out there for me, for someone at the younger end of the spectrum and female. My heart event is a life milestone for me now, but home-based metacognitive therapy has allowed me to take control of it and has allowed me to reflect on it properly.” 

Bernadette proud to provide her ‘jar of magic’ 

Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health disorders worldwide and in Greater Manchester we are among the top five regions nationally for mental ill health prevalence. Bernadette McKnight, from the Stockport borough, has lived with both conditions for a number of years. She took part in the largest study of anxiety and depression ever undertaken and championed the value of getting involved in this research which is exploring genetic links and involves providing a saliva sample. This study, which has been supported by our Delivery Team, is a great example of research which is addressing a local health need and of remote research participation that does not require in-person visits. Bernadette, 52, said: “If you can provide a saliva sample in the pot and submit that sample, it could make a world of difference and it just takes five minutes. You are providing a potential jar of magic.” 

We expanded the diversity of delivery to include more digitally led trials

Using game technology to help tackle childhood anxiety 

One-in-six children will experience some form of an anxiety condition growing up. However, there are often limited treatment or support options available where a child does not meet the high-risk threshold. The ‘Lumi Nova: Tales of Courage’ study has made an impact in this space by giving children, aged seven to 12, access to a mobile phone game which enables them to self-manage their worries over current and potential future events. 

Over 80 children were part of this study, which is based on ‘exposure therapy’. This involves setting goals, breaking down fears into manageable steps and attempting to overcome them in a gradual way to build confidence and manage anxiety. We supported this Manchester-led research by engaging with over 30 primary schools in Wigan and Bolton to provide participation opportunities. Young people reported positive experiences and developers hope the game will soon be available through GPs and schools. Feedback from one parent whose child took part said: “The child’s mum was so complimentary of the platform and attributes it to a dramatic change in his outlook and behaviours. He is calmer and happier, and she feels it is all down to his use of Lumi Nova. She was so grateful for being given the opportunity.”

Antiviral trial results informing COVID treatment worldwide 

Results were published from the PANORAMIC trial which has been looking at potentially game-changing antiviral drugs for COVID-19 which can be taken at home. Our Delivery Team was part of the ‘virtual telephone clinic’ which helped deliver the study with thousands of participants nationwide, many of whom signed-up online, at pace and scale. On the ground in our patch, the Middlewood Partnership and Barlow Medical Centre recruited patients from their practices in primary care. 

In research, it is equally important to demonstrate what does not work as what does work. Results released in December 2022 showed the antiviral molnupiravir, the first to be tested in PANORAMIC, does not reduce hospitalisations or deaths among higher risk, vaccinated adults with COVID-19. However the treatment was associated with a faster recovery time and participants receiving molnupiravir reported feeling better in comparison to those who received usual care. In the bigger picture, Co-Chief Investigator Professor Chris Butler said the evidence PANORAMIC has produced about molnupiravir is guiding treatment decisions for COVID-19 world-wide. 

We connected specialty leaders and teams to improve research opportunities for people living with multiple long term conditions

Collaborating across the North to progress Multiple Long Term Conditions research 

By bringing research in different specialty areas together, we can provide further participation options for patients living with more than two long-term conditions and contribute to an improved system where people do not have to move between health and care specialists as frequently. In line with NIHR strategy, Multiple Long Term Conditions (MLTC) research is everyone’s business.There are an estimated 14 million people in England living with MLTC and this number is growing, in line with our ageing population.

In collaboration with our fellow northern Local Clinical Research Networks, we hosted an online event seeking to address the challenges and complexities of delivering studies in MLTC. Over 350 people from the research community registered for the successful event which advised researchers how we can share our best practices in this space. 

As part of the event, Professor Darren Green, our Specialty Lead for Kidney Disorders, demonstrated the value of embedding an MLTC clinic in a secondary care setting and the importance of avoiding excluding patients where they may be eligible to participate in research. 

Addressing the rising personal and collective burden of living with multiple conditions is one of our most significant public health challenges. Sharing research delivery models and study designs that are inclusive and have representative participation is an important part of improving the quality of life for people living with multiple long term conditions.

Adding coronavirus data to our consent to approach database 

Long Covid is an emerging condition which remains in the early stages of research to discover treatment options. We know it is affecting people in many different ways, from exacerbating symptoms of existing conditions, to causing a wide variety of new issues such as fatigue, loss of taste and poor mental health. 

To help address this, we funded a project designed to combine the infrastructure and patient cohort needed to enable the conduct of Long-Covid studies at speed across our region. This has created a research-ready community of almost 4,800 people interested in coronavirus research. The database is held as part of our Research for the Future initiative, which in total has more than 10,600 volunteers registered and willing to hear about different types of research. The Help BEAT Coronavirus campaign is collecting information about people's COVID status, recovery, and whether they have received a coronavirus vaccine. This rich source of data can be utilised to match suitable participants with studies and help researchers source the right people for their projects. 

A live webinar giving people the chance to ask questions of our regional Long Covid expert attracted huge interest from around the UK and was joined by over 130 people and the recording has been watched hundreds of times. Dozens of people who saw the webinar took the opportunity to register with Help BEAT Coronavirus and will now be contacted about local studies they might like to get involved in.  

Our Relevant Research special award winner 

At the Greater Manchester Health and Care Research Awards 2022 we presented a special award for each of our three values. The award for Relevant Research was presented to the family of the late Bill Greenwood OBE, a volunteer and member of the Patient Research Advisory Group at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Our research community lost a respected member when Bill sadly passed away in 2022. Bill provided fantastic insight which he built through many years as a trust governor and volunteer. Through his reach, knowledge and networks in the wider community, Bill helped us to better engage with local people and partners. 

Chapter 3: Inclusive Involvement

We improved access for communities who are not historically given the opportunity to participate in research

Taking genetics research into our South Asian communities

By taking research directly into community locations, we have provided thousands of opportunities to take part in a huge research project seeking to improve health outcomes for South Asian people. Our Delivery Team recruited over 1,000 people to the Genes and Health Study by visiting communities across Greater Manchester including Bury, Rochdale, Oldham, Tameside, central and south Manchester. The study is trying to understand why people of Bangladeshi and Pakistani heritage have some of the highest rates of heart disease, diabetes and poor health in the UK. 

To achieve this, we developed relationships with contacts across these communities to build trust and arrange recruitment sessions at locations such as shopping centres and cultural festivals. Our flagship model has involved visiting mosques to speak with people of Islamic faith following Friday Prayers. Participation involves giving a small saliva sample, which means the study is ideal for community delivery with over 50 people regularly taking part at a time.  Abdul Kashem, chairman of Shahporan Mosque in Levenshulme, was the 500th participant in our region. He said: “It was great to see people from the community come together to try and find a way to understand more about the nature of disease.”

Investigating strategies to increase equal access to research 

In our region we know there are health conditions which disproportionately affect specific sections of our communities. As part of our commitment to addressing this issue , we awarded Strategic Funding to a project designed to develop, pilot and implement a range of initiatives with the potential to increase participation in research in communities which traditionally have not engaged. The project was carried out via a Research Support Officer pilot post by a research professional with established community links and direct experience of working with underserved communities.

Funding of this post allowed a range of engagement strategies to be piloted in Salford, Bury, Rochdale and Oldham. This included testing alternative social media channels such as TikTok and Instagram for recruitment, representation at established community events, and targeted promotion of studies designed for specific ethnicities. The findings will guide our work in this important area across the region. 

Engaging with our LGBTQ+ community  

There are big disparities in health outcomes for LGBTQ+ populations, for example in cancer, mental health, substance use, health screening, and experiences of healthcare. The NIHR has reported that more evidence on the needs and concerns of LGBTQ+ people using healthcare systems is needed to help researchers to understand what the next research priorities should be and how to address the disparities. With this in mind, we attend a variety of LGBTQ+ events to promote opportunities to be part of research by registering with our Research for the Future initiative. Our team was at Stockport Pride 2022 and the celebration provided a fantastic opportunity to speak with people about the service. More than 60 people signed-up in a day - a record number for us at a face-to-face event of this type.

Children’s book to inspire future generations to be part of research

Despite high levels of participation in research, we know many people understandably have reservations or even fears about getting involved. We partnered with a best-selling author to create a book designed to address this at root, by getting children thinking about the importance of research from a young age. 

Ready for Research is aimed at children aged up to school years three and four. It has been aligned with the school curriculum’s focus on introducing children to the importance of helping their community, because being part of research benefits society as a whole. The illustrated story takes the reader on a journey alongside a young person who, after being invited to take part in a study, overcomes their fears and helps others to do the same. We are sharing hundreds of free copies with schools and NHS partners and supporting them to ensure this fantastic resource is utilised with as many children as possible. The book is also available to buy

We used data to understand local communities most underserved

Are research participants in Greater Manchester representative of the population? 

Greater Manchester is one of the most diverse regions of the UK in terms of geography, social class and ethnicity. Researchers at the NIHR and the University of Manchester conducted an audit of studies supported by CRN Greater Mancherster between 2016 and 2021 to understand if participants in these studies represented the broader population accurately. 

They looked at participant characteristics such as ethnicity, sex, age, deprivation, and smoking status, and compared them to the Greater Manchester population. The results showed that out of 145 studies meeting the inclusion criteria, information was available for 85 studies with a total of 21,000 participants. However, data on participant characteristics were incomplete. They found evidence of gender equity and that ethnic minorities were underrepresented in the research (6% versus 16% compared to Greater Manchester estimates). Most of the research took place in central Manchester and NHS hospital trusts.

They concluded that health research in Greater Manchester between 2016 and 2023 was centralised and did not adequately represent ethnic minorities. Detailed participant information was difficult to obtain, making it challenging to determine which minority groups were least represented. The authors have suggested ways in which the reporting of key participant characteristics to the CRN could be improved to better monitor representativeness in health research. Their findings also identified a clear need to resource settings outside of central Manchester and Salford to encourage participation across the Greater Manchester region. 

Using data to understand the demographics of our participants

Our ability to know which communities and citizens are being well served by research can be enhanced by data which helps us understand more about the demographics of our previous participants. This will allow us to identify gaps to help funders, industry and study designers to develop research suited to our communities.

With this in mind, we have worked with partner organisations to overcome system barriers to the collection of demographic data of participants. For the first time, in the last year six of our partner trusts were able to capture and securely store year of birth data which is helping us better understand age profiles of our participants. This data can be drilled down by trust and health specialty areas. Our ambition with care providers across our region is to expand this capability to also capture data fields such as ethnicity and deprivation markers. 

Using the Census to focus our events  

We have taken our Health Research Festivals to selected communities in order to raise awareness of research and provide opportunities for engagement and participation. We made decisions on these locations using 2021 census data, as well as our own intelligence on recruitment to research in our region. This ensured we held festivals in communities which are underserved and that we offered attendees opportunities relevant to the health needs of the area. This data also helped us to invite partner organisations and charities which are working to address those same relevant health and care challenges.

We explored ways to increase staff diversity and expand involvement in research delivery

Supporting junior doctors to become research-active 

Junior doctors are a diverse group of clinicians, stretching from those in their first year of practice through to those about to become a consultant. However, we know that research tends to be the reserve of higher speciality trainees such as registrars, and that leaves a group of potentially 12,000 doctors each year who could also be contributing to research activity. 

Working with award-winning research-active junior doctor, Dr Sam Hey, we analysed feedback gathered from our ‘research census’ with almost 120 trainees to develop a new digital system designed to facilitate junior doctor involvement in research and reduce the impact of barriers. Titled the ‘Research Key’, it collates a trainee’s information and automatically populates their research CV. They are then linked-in with ‘champions’ who have expressed an interest in junior doctor involvement and given a month-long period to develop a relationship and share aims with the research team in their next rotation placement. Twelve junior doctors are piloting the system, with an intention to increase these numbers and repeat the census to generate further improvements. This pilot is unique to our region and we hope signals the beginning of system placements for junior doctors to develop and transfer their skills. This will benefit research delivery both now and in the future. 

Shaping the professional identity of Clinical Research Practitioners 

The role of the Clinical Research Practitioner (CRP) is evolving as a professional group, particularly since the establishment of a route to accredited registration in 2021. We have supported the development of this important position through the formation of two regional staff groups to promote the value of registration.

Firstly, we formed a North West Clinical Research Practitioners Confirmers group which has senior-level representation from partner organisations. It allows information to be exchanged across organisational boundaries and for leaders to make informed decisions about a preferred approach to CRP deployment and registration. As CRP registration is in its infancy and requires a registered healthcare professional to work with a CRP towards registration, the group ]identified the need to support those who will act as CRP Confirmers and is developing supporting learning resources, plus a CRP Confirmer workshop.

Secondly, we set up the North West CRP Community of Practice which meets quarterly, with the agenda and content driven by the practitioners in the community. This group encompasses any member of the workforce who works clinically and identifies as a CRP through their job description. They may not hold the job title of CRP, may not work in the same way as each other and may work in isolation but there are many commonalities, so the group is providing networking opportunities and best practice guidance, while promoting the need for registration. To find out more about these groups contact

Inspirational students excel on summer placement 

We are always seeking to inspire the next generation of researchers and develop future talent. For the first time, we successfully applied to host a Nuffield Research Placement for 10 ambitious A-Level students planning to apply for university during their second year at college. During a hands-on two-week period in the 2022 summer holidays, the 17-year-olds, from Wigan, Trafford, Manchester, Rochdale and Bury worked on research projects which challenged them to analyse and interpret real-life NIHR data and present their findings to our team. We were blown away by their talent and attitude, and equally the students found the experience incredibly valuable, which was reflected in their feedback. One student said: “It’s been an incredible experience being in the workplace environment and hopefully I might come back to work here.” We successfully applied to the Nuffield Foundation to host another cohort in 2023 and we would recommend other organisations to consider an application to be part of this fantastic initiative via the Nuffield Research Placements website

We built on partnerships we have established with patients and the public, health and social care professionals and the research community

Festivals take research into the community 

We are committed to making research more visible to our communities so that people can learn about it, and even take part, in places they might visit in their everyday life. In November 2022, we held our first ever Health Research Festival inside a community centre in Manchester. Over 100 people attended the event which featured fun for all the family, in addition to free health checks and opportunities to speak with the local community health and wellbeing support organisations. All of our participation campaigns were represented, including Research for the Future to which over 50 people signed-up to hear about upcoming opportunities. 

Following this success, we are taking our festival model to venues in boroughs across the region and have enjoyed even bigger turnouts as we continue to finetune our approach. The festivals bring together research engagement, involvement and participation opportunities for members of the public, but also provide a unique platform for borough-based care providers, private research organisations, support groups and voluntary bodies to come together and share initiatives. 

We are keen to partner with health and care organisations to hold more. This could be in collaboration with CRN Greater Manchester or alternatively we are very happy to share our learnings and checklists with organisations keen to host their own festival. Contact for the attention of Susan Neeson. 

Giving parents research opportunities to support their children 

We have worked hard to build contacts with our region’s schools in order to raise awareness of research and provide opportunities to take part. Previously, schools have been underserved in research but when suitable studies open for recruitment, we are now able to utilise these relationships and this has resulted in high levels of participation. 

For example, over 500 families, spread over secondary 11 schools, were involved in the PIPA Trial, far exceeding the recruitment target. This NIHR-funded research has given parents the opportunity to trial the effectiveness of a personalised online programme in reducing anxiety and depression among young people. 

This study is important because these two conditions are among the most common facing our health and care system and symptoms often first appear in adolescence. Research has shown that teaching preventative strategies to parents, using an online programme tailored to their needs, can reduce levels of depression in their teenage sons or daughters. The PIPA trial is aiming to adapt an Australian online intervention to make it relevant for parents and young people in the UK. 

To hear more about delivering research in schools or discuss our starties, contact for the attention of Ash Minchin. 

Developing a region-wide research pharmacy for NHS trusts 

Through partnerships with health and care organisations across the region, we have intelligence on common obstacles being encountered in research delivery. A prime example is capacity issues with secondary care pharmacies which is known to cause delays during set-up. Industry feedback tells us this can result in life sciences trials being taken outside of the UK, causing missed opportunities for our population. 

With this in mind, we awarded Strategic Funding to a project designed to assess the feasibility of a region-wide pharmacy to support the set-up of drug trials happening across multiple sites. This is an important project because the longer a study remains in set-up, the less time there is for study recruitment activity, which can limit the amount of time available for people to participate in research. However, finding ways to reduce the need for repeat activities across a regional pharmacy service with multiple care organisations has the potential to make the system more efficient and effective, allowing more time to identify and involve local people that are interested and suitable in studies.  

A year in, it is clear the process has the potential to reduce duplication and staff pressures with a standardised system which provides exceptional experience for sponsors. Our ambition for this project is to widen participation in trials of new medicines by sharing resources, expertise and streamlining local pharmacy processes. This project is being led by colleagues at our host trust, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, and they can be contacted via 

Our Inclusive Involvement special award winner 

At the Greater Manchester Health and Care Research Awards 2022 we presented a special award for each of our three values. The award for Inclusive Involvement was presented to Sarah Penkett, Critical Care Outreach Practitioner at Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust. 

Sarah made a real difference in the implementation and acceptance of research activity in critical care at her trust. In doing so, she gave patients the opportunity to access new and innovative treatments. She has become a Principal Investigator and was described as “moving a whole service forward with momentum and consistency” in research.

Chapter 4: Exceptional Experience 

We understood the customer services experiences of our participants to make future improvements 

Child experiences captured for first time 

For the first time, our 2022/23 Participant in Research Experience Survey asked for feedback specifically from the parents or guardians of child participants, in addition to adult participants. We are proud to have proactively expanded the survey to include all age groups.

Working in collaboration with our partner organisations, the survey is shared with as many participants as possible and also gives people the option to consent to be approached about future participation opportunities. 

Results showed that 94% of participants would take part, or allow their children or take part, in research again, and 99% felt they were always treated with courtesy, kindness and respect by staff. In the adult survey, 92% said they would get involved in research again. 

Some standout comments from participants included: 

“The research staff were polite and friendly and did everything they could to make sure I was happy and understood all aspects of the research.”

“The staff could not have made the experience any better.” 

“From the start of my participation I have been made to feel welcome and valued.”

“The staff are kind and patient and explain in detail what is required. I cannot praise them enough.”

Anthony takes part as Research Van visits Manchester United 

Participants gave excellent feedback after our state-of-the-art Research Van visited the home of Manchester United Football Club. The purpose-built vehicle with pharmacy capability is unique to our region with the goal of widening opportunities for people to be part of research in easy-to-reach locations. The van visited Old Trafford in December 2022 on one of its first visits into the community. Anthony Casey, 69, from Sale, was among the patients identified as being potentially at-risk of liver disease and invited by his GP for the opportunity to be part of the ID LIVER study. Anthony said: “It's a little unusual at first, but the staff were super efficient and it’s easy access for me. There’s no waiting, it’s straight in. The fact that it’s coming out where people live is a great thing.” 

The van has been used to support the delivery of numerous other studies, such as research for the NIHR BioResource, and is forming part of public-facing events to demonstrate our commitment to taking research on the road into communities. Anyone interested in utilising the van can email

Harriet’s involvement helps protect other babies from RSV

Almost 300 parents across our region enrolled their babies on to a landmark respiratory virus study focused on the UK’s leading cause of infant hospitalisation. RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) affects 90% of children before age two and can lead to severe lung problems such as bronchiolitis. 

The HARMONIE study was open to families at eight of our region’s hospitals which collaborated on a local level to support one another, led by a regional study manager from our host trust. GP practices also played an important role as Patient Identification Centres which referred interested parents. The study benefited from a national approach across the CRN regions which aided study design and ensured the most suitable sites were selected. 

The study showed that nirsevimab, a monoclonal antibody immunisation, can protect babies from serious illness due to RSV. The results revealed an 83% reduction in infant hospitalisations among those receiving the antibody, reinforcing the public health benefit of nirsevimab which has received regulatory approval. 

Emma Barnfield, 30, had a great experience when she took newborn daughter Harriet to be part of the study at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. She said: “I would definitely encourage parents to consider taking part in research. We already know the immunisation can be beneficial and the more evidence that can be generated through the study, hopefully the further it can be rolled out to protect children.”

We valued the potential and achievements of our workforce by investing in their development and recognising their success

Starting health professionals on their research career journey

In the last year over 130 doctors, nurses and other health professionals from our region got involved with research for the first time as part of NIHR's Associate Principal Investigator (PI) Scheme. A total of 76 qualified from the scheme and over 50 were midway through. The in-work training programme provides them with practical experience and the building blocks towards becoming investigators. 

Miss Sophie Rogers, a Registrar in Trauma and Orthopaedic surgery, says the scheme has given her invaluable insight into the complexities of setting up a national study in a local department. She added: “The experience has undoubtedly made me more prepared to engage in research projects going forward in my career and possibly as a PI at consultant level. It has also aided me to fulfil many research requirements for my Certificate of Completion of Training.”

Through this programme we attract, train and support the best research leaders to tackle complex health and social care challenges.

Investing in our future research leaders

We are funding four health professionals on Cohort 4 of our Research Scholars Programme. The two-year initiative, delivered in collaboration with CRN North West Coast and NHS R&D North West, equips candidates with the skills, knowledge and experience to become Principal and Chief investigators.

Among Cohort 4 is Matt Kenyon, a specialist musculoskeletal physiotherapist. One year in, Matt says it has allowed him to build an expert network of contacts, and not only develop himself professionally but also develop others by setting up an Allied Health Professional research group in his Trust and mentor an aspiring researcher on our Early Career Researcher Pathway Programme. It has also allowed Matt to complete his own study looking at the characteristics of 575 people suffering from Achilles pain. The outcomes have shown a need to consider alternative treatment options for patients living in the underserved populations he serves.  

Matt said: “The Research Scholars programme has made the impossible seem possible to me. It’s given me invaluable protected time and support to be able to pursue my path to becoming a clinical academic leader.” This is one of many ways in which we invested in world-class expertise and a skilled workforce to deliver research that translates discoveries into improved treatments and services.

Recognising staff achievements all year round 

We introduced the CRN Greater Manchester Certificate of Achievement, a new scheme to recognise excellence of staff in our network throughout the year. The first recipient of this accolade, as chosen by our awards working group, was Linda Peacock who was presented with her certificate on her final day of service as Research Nurse Team Coordinator, before retirement from the role. She said: “I am so honoured to receive this reward. I love my job but most of all I love the people I work with and our research participants. It’s a real privilege to have the opportunity to contribute to research.”

National and Trust accolades for practitioner Caroline 

Caroline Winckley, a Clinical Research Practitioner in our Delivery Team, was recognised on a national stage at the 2023 Advancing Healthcare Awards. She was part of a three-person shortlist for the Academy for Healthcare Science Award for Clinical Research Practitioner Leadership. Caroline made the shortlist in recognition of her work leading on the Genes and Health genetics study. Caroline said she was honoured to attend the ceremony in London to represent CRN Greater Manchester and the Clinical Research Practitioner profession. In addition, Caroline received a 'Going the Extra Mile' award from our host trust. She was named the winner in the Professional Excellence category for the entire Research and Innovation division. 

We provided excellent customer services which encouraged repeat research opportunities and new collaborations 

Greater Manchester praised in major independent review of UK commercial trials

Our network was proud to be singled out for praise in an independent review of UK commercial clinical trials. The government commissioned the review which sets out the actions needed to address key challenges within the system. It was conducted by former Health Minister Lord James O’Shaughnessy, who consulted with industry and a wide range of stakeholders across the UK clinical trials sector. His report includes a case study on CRN Greater Manchester which outlined how our region has “bucked the trend” in a challenging environment for UK participation in commercial trials in recent years, with a 44% increase in participation between 2017/18 and 2021/22 in our region.  

The report said: “CRN Greater Manchester and its regional health and social care providers have become a hub of commercial research delivery. Thanks to its strong research infrastructure and talented workforce, collaboration between providers, academia and industry, and a supportive business environment, CRN Greater Manchester has a successful record of supporting life sciences research across a range of therapeutic areas and trial phases.”

Global recognition for adapting our pandemic strategies 

During the pandemic we had to work differently to adapt to the unique circumstances we were presented with. This brought out the best in our CRN Greater Manchester core team at the time, but on a longer-term basis we also learned a vast amount which has shaped our future strategy and ensured a lasting legacy of how we deliver research, often in ways which are more efficient and more convenient for participants. The way we converted these learnings into business as usual earned us recognition at the PharmaTimes International Clinical Researcher of the Year Awards 2023. We were shortlisted in the category for Clinical Site Team of the Year and won the bronze award. Judges were impressed by how we used pandemic-inspired initiatives - such as recruitment sessions in the community, at weekends, and aboard our Research Van - to deliver non-COVID research.

Virtual tours showcase capability and save thousands of pounds

In order to bring research studies to our region, stakeholders need to know we have the facilities to deliver their study to the highest standards. Face-to-face visits can sometimes be time-consuming and expensive, so we created a series of virtual tours to demonstrate the capability of key delivery sites in our region. These walkaround tours have enabled virtual site selection and increased efficiency and cost effectiveness for the life science industry. This has also been a collaborative effort with NIHR Clinic Research Facility infrastructure to grow local early phase pipelines. Our colleagues at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust calculated the tours of their sites are saving their organisation around £97,000 a year in staff time. 

Automated site identification system

We finished piloting our automated site identification system, which was designed to help us identify sites to deliver commercial research studies based on specialty and site capabilities. Feedback from partners has shown the system saves them time and results in higher quality expressions of interest being submitted. The net result is that it is quicker for organisations to return higher quality expressions of interest in more relevant studies, increasing the size of partner organisations’ commercial portfolios. The system is in use across all health and care specialties for secondary care settings, with plans to use the tool for primary care and social care settings too.

100% Industry satisfaction 

Each year, we ask our Industry stakeholders to tell us what they think of the service they received from our team. The survey is shared with all of our contacts in areas such as pharma, SMEs and medtech. Last year, 100% of respondents were completely satisfied with their experience. Medpace, one of our Clinical Research Organisation (CRO) partners, highlighted the support we provided for site feasibilities, adding: “The support in reaching out to investigators in the region and selecting the right investigators for each study has been incredibly valuable.” IQVIA, another CRO, commented: “Our relationships with the industry team members and the responsiveness of the team are very valuable. They are always ready to step up when needed.” Clinerion Ltd, one of our SME partners, told us: “They are very cooperative and professional in trying to find solutions for any kind of problem.” 

Praise for our role in study to help young people self-manage worries

Our CRN Greater Manchester team has been praised for its instrumental role in the success of the Lumi Nova: Tales of Courage’ implementation study (see p [insert number when known]) which has explored barriers and enablers to the adoption of a therapeutic mobile phone game for children aged seven to 12. The game allows children to self-manage anxieties over current and potential events in their lives. 

John Sainsbury, Innovation Manager at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH), said our team worked “methodically” with GMMH and numerous stakeholders to engage school staff in the study. He added: “After several months of constant and meticulous planning, the team identified over 300 potential participants. Following screening, 113 were consented by the study team and the CRN. Communicating participants’ consent to their GP was also supported by CRN colleagues. The CRN undertook some heavy lifting during the early phase of recruitment to raise the profile of the study and attract suitable families and children to become involved. The study’s research digital navigator felt a boost in her morale working alongside the CRN, as awareness was raised and the recruitment load shared.”

Our Exceptional Experience special award winner 

At the Greater Manchester Health and Care Research Awards 2022 we presented a special award for each of our three values. The award for Exceptional Experience was presented to Dr Adrian Parry-Jones, Consultant Neurologist at Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust. Adrian was part of research which saved the life of a patient named John, who was admitted to hospital with a severe stroke. The catheter placed in John’s brain crucially reduced the amount of bleeding and, ultimately, allowed him more precious time with his family. Sadly, John died 18 months later from an unrelated illness, but for the rest of his life, he and his wife Jean spoke of their gratitude for this invaluable research opportunity. This example shows how Adrian went above and beyond for John and how he’s remained in touch with his family. 

Chapter 5: Looking ahead into 2023/24 

Each December we launch the call for our annual Strategic Funding initiative. Through this, we allocate funds to a number of projects which have been designed by local partners with the aim of transforming regional research delivery models, with a particular emphasis on underserved communities. Each successful project must align to one of our three values. Outcomes from the projects are shared in our annual spring showcase so that everyone in our research community can learn from the successes and challenges. In this chapter, we share a selection of the projects we are supporting in 2023/24

Relevant Research funded projects 

Research in prisons

Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust: This project is focusing on research in prisons and will explore how a Prisoner Advisory Group should be developed in prisons. It will consider areas such as how to maximise prisoner benefit from involvement in research, how to recruit them more routinely, and the infrastructure needed to support this.

Stroke research expansion  

Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust: Funding will build capacity and capability in stroke research. It will aim to reduce staffing pressures by removing barriers to Allied Health Professionals getting involved in delivery. Funding will also provide dedicated time to develop closer working relationships with a broader range of partner organisations and community groups representing people from underserved populations.

Community engagement

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust: A community engagement project will listen to the voices of people who do not access healthcare or participate in research in Blackburn, one of the UK's top 10 most deprived areas. This will help us understand barriers and facilitators for these underserved populations. 

Inclusive Involvement funded projects 

Access to cancer research  

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust: The Senior Adult Oncology Service (SAOS) at The Christie is uniquely positioned to increase participation in research of older patients with complex health issues. This funding will help to increase the identification of older patients with cancer and complex needs who are potentially eligible to participate in research studies, but who have typically been excluded due to the nature of study eligibility criteria. 

Mental ill health in underserved communities 

Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust: Funding will support the Optimising Outcomes with Medicines (OptiMed) Research Unit. This was launched in 2022 to carry out medicines optimisation and safety research to benefit patients with mental illness. The unit is committed to research which involves and reflects the priorities of those with mental illness from all communities across Greater Manchester. It will use the funding to carry out early work to address the lack of input from under-served communities.

Community priority setting 

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust: This funding will help Vocal, a well-established Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement group, co-deliver and evaluate a community priority setting partnership on health and care research in central and east Manchester. 

Exceptional Experience funded projects 

Patient experiences 

Primary Care: This funding will support The Ashton Medical Group, a GP Practice in Ashton-under-Lyne with over 18,000 patients, to gather information via bespoke questionnaires. The questionnaires will provide valuable qualitative and quantitative data about patients' experiences of research. 

Student placements 

Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust: This funding will support a research assistant training post for student placements in research delivery teams across the trust. This will help to nurture and develop future talent, in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University, with the potential to build the capacity of our future workforce. 

Pharmacy risk assessments

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust: Funding will enable the development of a more robust process for rolling out the research pharmacy risk assessment process across Greater Manchester and beyond. The project will explore whether the process could be digitalised. This could enable it to be utilised in more health and care settings and across a broader geographical area, as we look ahead to the formation of our NIHR North West-wide Research Delivery Network in 2024. 

Chapter 6: Accessing our cohorts of local volunteers 

We have a range of ‘consent to approach’ campaigns that people can sign-up for. Lots of ‘research ready’ volunteers are registered with these initiatives, which means they are interested and waiting to hear about different types of research they can get involved in. We can help your research reach these people. 

By speaking with the teams behind these initiatives, researchers and delivery teams can make sure their studies and other participation opportunities are shared directly with these volunteers. Interested in how it works? You can get in touch via the contacts below and why not register yourself and even encourage your colleagues and family to sign-up

Research for the Future

Research for the Future is a North West service which can help you to involve, engage and recruit the right people to participate in your research. It helps find participants for a wide range of research involvement and engagement opportunities including grant applications, clinical trials and other patient and public involvement and engagement opportunities. Since its formation in 2011, over 12,500 people have registered and consented to be approached about research opportunities, and it has supported over 250 studies to recruit to a range of research opportunities. 

Call 0161 206 3636 or email to speak with a member of the team, or go to 

Anyone aged 18-plus, regardless of their health background, 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. 

Be Part of Research 

Be Part of Research is a website run by the NIHR. It is designed to help people of all ages find and contact the teams working on research studies taking place near them. This includes studies happening across our region. Users can search for participation opportunities by typing in a condition, or a place or postcode. There is also an A-Z of conditions to search by. Go to

This site is designed to make it easier for researchers and delivery teams to attract participants to their study. For your trial or study to be included on this website, you must create a listing on one of these two registry sites; ISRCTN or

People aged 18+ can also create their own account which allows them to be contacted directly about research of their choosing in specific health and care areas and locations. For this, go to    

Contact with any queries. 

Join Dementia Research

Join Dementia Research is an NIHR service that enables people to register their interest and be matched with suitable dementia research studies taking place nearby. People do not need to have dementia to get involved, and it’s also okay to sign-up and manage an account on behalf of someone else. 

On the flipside, researchers can use Join Dementia Research to find volunteers for their study. Services include an option to request a call back for patients who want to know more.

Go to or contact our local support officer  

Utilising the support of our Research Champions

We coordinate a group of Research Champions, who are patients, or carers or members of the public with a passion for research. Our current focus is to identify activities to target under-served communities to be part of research, and to form a community of practice with Research Champions linked to our partner organisations. Please contact us if you would like to work with our champions to promote research in your area. Some examples include: 

  • Visiting health services, patient groups or community groups to talk about relevant research studies
  • Involvement in discussions around recruitment methods
  • Co-designing materials, such as posters and leaflets, to raise public awareness of health and care research 
  • Taking part in activities to mark health awareness days.

Basheer Nurudeen is just one of our Research Champions. He says: “I am passionate about public health and health care research for effective and quality decision making to achieve universal health improvements.” 

Care home research

Care homes interested in getting involved in research can join our Enabling Research in Care Homes (ENRICH) network and access support from our team. There are many ways people working in care homes can be involved with research. Supporting research can range from distributing information to helping conduct studies on site with residents.  

ENRICH also helps researchers who are wanting to work with care homes, or planning a study involving care home residents, to understand and overcome challenges with conducting research outside NHS healthcare settings. 

Contact to speak with our team, or go to 

Greater Manchester Health and Care Research Awards 2022

The talent and hard work of staff across our network was recognised at our annual evening of celebration, the Greater Manchester Health and Care Research Awards 2022. Winners were revealed in 12 categories, recognising a broad range of qualities from leadership and cross-organisational collaboration, to public engagement and putting participants first. We were proud to show our appreciation to our local workforce and ensure the achievements of each of our 40 finalists were highlighted with a dedicated video package. At the end of the night, we also presented special accolades to three special winners, each of whom represented a shining example of our three core values. Thanks to our successful external partnerships, the awards were sponsored by Clinerion, PPD part of Thermo Fisher Scientific and Parexel.  

The winners

Best Public Engagement
Mohammed Tariq and Dr Stuart Stewart – Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust

Prioritising Wellbeing Award
Paediatric Clinical Research Team – Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

Outstanding Achievement by a Team – Ways of Working, Sponsored by PPD, part of Thermo Fisher Scientific
East Cheshire Research Team – East Cheshire NHS Trust

Outstanding Achievement by a Team – Study Delivery
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Team – Bolton NHS Foundation Trust

Primary Care or Community Research Contribution
Peterloo Medical Centre

Exceptional Research Delivery Leadership
Miriam Avery – Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

Inclusive Involvement Excellence, Sponsored by Parexel
Nicky Lidbetter – CEO of Anxiety UK and Director of Mental Health at the Big Life Group

Collaborative Working Accomplishment
End-of-life advance care planning project – North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, and Lancaster University

Early Career Researcher Achievement
Dr Emma Searle – The Christie NHS Foundation Trust Best Contribution to Research

Delivery outside of the NHS
Siddiq Diwan – Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

Transforming Research Delivery, Sponsored by Clinerion
GBS3 trial team – East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust

Putting Participants First
Christie Lymphoma Research Team – The Christie NHS Foundation Trust

Special Award for Inclusive Involvement
Sarah Penkett – Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust

Special Award for Relevant Research
Bill Greenwood OBE – accepted by Ann and Richard, wife and son of the late Bill

Special Award for Exceptional Experience
Dr Adrian Parry-Jones – Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, accepted by Vikki O’Loughlin, and Jean Crompton and Jane Jackson, wife and daughter of the late John Crompton

Lifetime Achievement Award
Professor Martin Gibson – CRN Greater Manchester


As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of our wonderful National Health Service in 2023, we are reminded of the amazing progress that has been made in health and care since the NHS was founded in 1948. Research has made those advances possible, and it is our privilege to continue this important work. In 2022/23 our network once again embraced this responsibility. 

Recruitment numbers do not tell the full story of what has been achieved. But it paints an impressive mental picture when you consider our region had enough participants last year to fill the Manchester Arena almost two-and-a-half times. Thank you to everyone in our local system who made it possible for those 51,279 people to be part of research. And thank you to each of those participants for taking an action which will help shape the future of health and care. 

As we continued to excel in the delivery of commercial trials and consolidated our excellent secondary care record, we also made fantastic strides in the delivery of research in social care and other community settings. Tireless work has taken place to build capacity and capability in these areas and we are already seeing the fruits of this effort. 

Looking ahead, our network will change its name and footprint  in October 2024 to become the Research Delivery Network for the entire North West. Until then, rest assured we will continue to deliver business as usual while working behind the scenes to prepare for a seamless transition. We will share as much information as we can, as soon as we can, and we are excited about the wealth of opportunities this transition will provide for our workforce and the communities we serve. 

Thank you. 

Roger Spencer

Chairman of the CRN Greater Manchester Partnership Group, and Chief Executive of The Christie NHS Foundation Trust 

Contact us

For all enquiries about how we can support you to set up and deliver research in NHS, Public Health and Social Care settings in Greater Manchester, East Cheshire and East Lancashire, email our single point of contact address: 
You can also find out more by: