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CRN WM CRSL Job Description



Clinical Research Specialty Lead Role Description

Created May 2017
Updated December 2019

The NIHR Clinical Research Network 


The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is a multifaceted organisation funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. A significant part of NIHR funding is allocated to the delivery of clinical research in England through the NIHR Clinical Research Network (NIHR CRN). The CRN is tasked with supporting the rapid set-up and effective conduct of studies, so that researchers can produce the robust evidence needed to improve treatments in the NHS and beyond.
The NIHR CRN operates through 15 Local Clinical Research Networks (LCRNs). Each LCRN drives clinical research delivery in its locality and champions clinical research at every level. The LCRNs come together both locally and nationally in communities of practice to coordinate activity, share best practice and engage in dialogue with researchers, funders, patients and other stakeholders.

As part of this Network, Clinical Research Specialty Leads (CRSLs) will help drive the clinical research agenda in the West Midlands LCRN, the largest and most complex of the 15 CRN Networks. The CRM WM is hosted by The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, and CRSLs may be drawn from any of the LCRN Partner Organisations (Appendix One).
CRN leaders are expected to be high-profile ambassadors for the NIHR. As well as a passion for bringing clinical research opportunities to patients, CRSLs require an in- depth understanding of how the local NHS functions, an understanding and background in research, an ability to forge and maintain productive partnerships across organisational boundaries, and the tenacity to deliver ambitious targets in challenging environments. CRSLs will receive regular performance reports and be able to request additional reports through the information and portfolio managers.

Role description – Clinical Research Specialty Lead (CRSL)

Accountable to: LCRN Clinical Director (CD)
Responsible to: LCRN Clinical Research Lead (CRL)
Hours: To be negotiated dependent on size of specialty portfolio, but with the expectation of no more than 1 PA per specialty (or equivalent).
Tenure: Initially three years, subject to yearly appraisal & performance review
Attendance: Will be expected to attend at least 50% of CRN CRSL meetings and also specialty/divisional meetings.

Key Duties and Responsibilities

This job description is not intended to be an exhaustive list of duties and it may be reviewed and altered in the light of changing service needs and developments after discussion with the post holder.
Portfolio And HLOs
• Review regional portfolio activity for the specialty on a regular basis ideally at least quarterly in the context of a specialty meeting to include the RDM, Portfolio Manager and relevant investigators
• Work with the Research Delivery Manager (RDM), the Divisional Portfolio Manager and/or other members of LCRN teams to improve the delivery of research within the specialty across the region. Examples of relevant activities may include:
• Identifying up-coming “pipeline” studies in order to be prepared to initiate these in a timely fashion
• Reviewing the national specialty portfolio to seek new studies that may be taken on within the region
• Liaising with Chief Investigators in the region to plan support for new portfolio studies
• Contributing to discussions about study feasibility, particularly when a clinical perspective is needed
• Support the RDM and other Managers, to ensure the LCRN delivers in line with the LCRN Annual Plan and Host/NIHR CC and DH Contract
• Ensure timely and effective delivery of relevant studies on the local NIHR CRN Portfolio, with particular reference to the LCRN’s contribution to the national objectives for the specialty, and the High Level Objectives (HLOs) in the LCRN contract
• Work with the RDM and Industry Operations Manager to undertake local feasibility assessments and reviews for commercial studies, including identifying potential sites/investigators that could conduct the study, assessing the available research resources including skills, facilities and equipment and provide robust recruitment goals

• Analyse “black” “red” and “amber” studies in terms of recruitment and develop action plans to address these in close collaboration with the RDM; this could include review of resources in line with portfolio activity, agreeing recommendations with RDM and Divisional Lead as appropriate on investment/disinvestment
• Review of closed studies for lessons learned, including for commercial studies the Closed Study Proforma
• Provide clinical leadership, advice and accountability for specialty activities and performance, working closely with the various staff within the LCRN and other stakeholders both within the region and nationally
• Work to identify local strengths, capacity and capability to ensure that the continued development of the local portfolio maximises patient focused research opportunities for patients across all sectors of the LCRN population
• Promote patient, carer and public involvement in research and work with lay members as applicable for the specialty group
• Keep up to date with changes to national and local healthcare arrangements in order to advise the LCRN on new potential opportunities and/or challenges to the delivery of the NIHR CRN portfolio of studies
• Work with and support NHS and other relevant organisations/primary care within the LCRN area to maximise their involvement in NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio studies, including industry studies. Highlight opportunities for Clinical colleagues to participate in research at regional clinical meetings for the specialty. Positively champion the NIHR and CRN
• Engagement with local research champions within relevant Trusts to generate enthusiasm and support for studies
• Link with the NIHR local infrastructure (e.g. BRUs, ARCs, CTUs and CRFs etc.) to develop effective partnerships
• Support CRN WM with any Study Support Service initiatives where clinical expertise is required
• Supporting (or where appropriate) establishing specialty trainees regional network
• Be an active member of the National Specialty Group/Community of Practice (if established), attending national meetings and contributing to national initiatives led by the national Specialty Group, developing and sharing best practice. Where the portfolio of the National Specialty Group is significant, members might also be expected to take a national (and local) leadership role for part of the specialty’s national portfolio, or for some specific studies
• Provide local intelligence to the national NIHR CRN Specialty leadership, including pressures/issues relating to the delivery of the portfolio. Examples of good practice and positive impact, including local studies that can recruit nationally, emerging patient needs and unrepresented patient populations
• Contribute to national CRN initiatives, including developing and sharing best practice
• Work in close collaboration with neighbouring LCRNs to remove artificial barriers to participation in NIHR CRN Portfolio studies


• Support the development of new ways of working that will increase the integration of health research and patient care, and improve the quality, speed and co- ordination of clinical research
• Work to identify potential new Chief Investigators within the specialty
• Identify at least one individual development/achievement for the coming year (see also below in Review Process.

Review process

Each CRSL will have an Annual Review performed by the Divisional CRL and RDM.
A copy is enclosed. The Annual review will explore:
• Attendance at relevant meetings; local and national
• National Engagement
• Local Engagement
• National and Specialty Objectives
• CRSL Role and Impact
• Improving Performance (against agreed High Level Objectives (HLOs))
• Specialty Annual Report (for past year)
• Specialty Annual Plan (for next year)
In addition, each CRSL is expected to identify one or more specific achievements for the next year, and also which criteria for success they expect to be assessed on them.

*We also engage with other providers of NHS services who are delivering Portfolio clinical research studies, including Ambulance Trusts, Care Homes, and Hospices etc.