This site is optimised for modern browsers. For the best experience, please use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

Chris Speed reflects on the transition to the NIHR Research Delivery Network

A blog by Chris Speed, Transition Lead for the Regional Research Delivery Network North East and North Cumbria

As we transition from one year to the next, I thought it was a good time to share some of my thoughts on the transition from one network to the next.

Many of us use the start of a new year as a time for reflection and an opportunity to set personal goals for the coming 12 months. Some resolutions are well meaning, but not necessarily well thought out or deliverable. This is quite possibly why gym membership subscriptions rocket in January, but gyms don’t bother looking for new premises or staff. I hold my hand up as being someone in this category. I realise that just because you’ve paid to join, unless you have a personal plan with objectives that get you to where you want to go, you’re not likely to realise any return on the investment! The same rules about planning and setting clear goals of achievement apply to workplace transitions, too.

We know that the transition from the Clinical Research Network (CRN) to the Research Delivery Network (RDN) will be transformational; I read this as being ‘more of the same with a little tweak won’t do’. We will be different and our stakeholders will recognise this difference. In preparing for this, there have been multiple conversations and listening exercises with large numbers of stakeholders from NHS R&D, academia, charity partners and the current CRN workforce. A lot of information sharing and reflection has led to the process starting.

There is a systemwide acknowledgement of the value that the CRN has added. The wish is that the RDN will build upon the CRN successes and add even more value across the health and care system. This is one of the reasons that I was attracted to the opportunity to lead our regional transition into the RDN. We are all public servants and need to be ever-aware of the value we add and the value we can add.

There is a lot of information shared about the transition and transformation into the RDN and this is open access. I'd encourage you to take time to visit (or revisit) it, as it is always being refreshed and updated with useful information.

Recently, the Transition Leads have been facilitating the process of developing what will become the services and functions for the RDN. There are multiple strands that have emerged from the collective feedback on where the RDN can add value. By the end of January, these will be shared with host organisations; in our case, this is The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. At this point, we will understand more about what we are expected to offer as an RDN service and how we are expected to do this.

In gym parallels, this is the same as having a broad aim (getting fitter/adding more value) and then developing a detailed plan (training schedule/service offering) to help us get there. In the same way as a particular element of a training plan might look great on paper, until you start doing it in the context of your full plan, you never get to test whether it is a help or a hindrance to your overall aim.

Reflecting and thinking about gains is as much a part of the network’s process as it is the athletes (ok, I’m stretching that label). As you’ll see from the RDN change statements, we’ll be an organisation of continuous improvement. This means we might not get it right from the off, but as an organisation that works in true partnership with colleagues and stakeholders, we will seek feedback and seek to address it in a timely manner.

We have a lot of work to do to prepare ourselves and our stakeholders for the arrival of the RDN on 01.10.2024. Unlike my early forays to the gym, we know what we want to achieve and we have a pretty good plan to get us there. We will continue to listen through transition and if we need to tweak any plans, we can.

I hope 2024 brings you all you wish and hope for.