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COVID-19 updates from CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex

COVID-19 updates from CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex

If you wish to contact CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex with any queries, please email  

NIHR's response to COVID-19

On behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the NIHR is funding and helping to deliver a range of “rapid response” research to better understand and tackle COVID-19. NIHR are doing this in close cooperation with Public Health England, UK Research & Innovation, the Health Research Authority and others. Further information can be accessed at

Useful links

Urgent Public Health Research Studies for COVID-19
Q&A on the impact of COVID-19 on research funded or supported by NIHR (updated 27 March 2020)
COVID-19 Research Activity Dashboard on ODP
DHSC review process for COVID-19 Urgent Public Health Research
Q&A on the impact of COVID-19 on research funded or supported by NIHR (updated 7 April)
Coronavirus - the facts explained 

Study websites:


20 May

Resources to support BME research engagement

The Centre for BME Health has created this video to encourage more people from BME communities to take part in research.

Centre for BME Health Toolkit aims to capture such best practice and provide researchers with a framework on how to improve the participation of BAME groups in research.

Be Part of Research has a section with resources for BME communities to learn more about COVID-19 research.


12 May

New call for research on the risk factors, transmission and prevalence of coronavirus
The NIHR and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) have launched a new call for research proposals on the risk factors, transmission and prevalence of the COVID-19 virus SARS-CoV-2. The research funded will help inform policy decisions during the pandemic, including possible decisions about infection prevention strategies and relaxation of existing containment measures. 


7 May

Supporting and engaging BME patients in COVID-19 research

Professor Geeta Menon has been appointed KSS Clinical Lead to support the NIHR CRN/ Centre for Black and Minority Ethnic Health Collaboration project in response to COVID-19.

UK’s Chief Medical Officers urge recruitment of more COVID-19 patients

The UK’s four Chief Medical Officers and NHS England and Improvement’s’ National Medical Director have written a joint letter to every NHS Trust in the country emphasising that more patients need to be enrolled into nationally prioritised clinical trials on COVID-19. The letter focuses on two of the major trial platforms: RECOVERY and ACCORD. 


1 May 

New Course for Laboratory Staff on NIHR Learn
Fundamentals of Clinical Research Delivery for Laboratory Staff is now available. This course can be found in the GCP Online section of NIHR Learn or using the quick link menu on the home page.

National, collaborative platform launched to fast-track potential COVID-19 treatments
ACCORD (Accelerating, COVID-19 Research & Development) is a new platform which will accelerate the development of new drugs for patients hospitalised with COVID-19, reducing the time taken to set up clinical studies for new therapies from months to just weeks and helping to ease pressure on the NHS and ultimately save lives. Further information is on the NIHR website.

New COVID-19 area on ‘Engaging with your local NHS: Research Delivery Staff Community’A new area ‘Your COVID-19 Research Experience’ has been added to the ‘Engaging with your local NHS: Research Delivery Staff Community’ on NIHR Learn. This new section focuses on supporting frontline delivery staff with the personal and professional challenges of delivering COVID-19 studies.


29 April 

Q&A - prioritisation process for Urgent Public Health Research

A Q&A for the prioritisation process for Urgent Public Health Research is available on the NIHR website. 


NIHR Podcast Series on NIHR Learn

This podcast series brings together NIHR Podcasts previously recorded by Professor Allan Gaw and hosted on the NIHR Soundcloud into relevant themes for learners to work through. The themes for this current series are: Ethics, Study Design, Special Patient Groups and Patient and Public Involvement. There is an opportunity for learners to then discuss their thoughts or ask questions using a discussion forum. The Podcast Series can be found in the Research Health Innovations menu tab of NIHR Learn.

27 April 

NIHR and UKRI launch call for research on COVID-19 and ethnicity

The NIHR and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) are jointly calling for research proposals to investigate emerging evidence of an association between ethnicity and COVID-19 incidence and adverse health outcomes.


COVID-19 Rapid Response Rolling Call 

Building on the initial rapid funding round for COVID-19 research, the NIHR and UKRI are holding a rolling call for proposals for research into COVID-19. The call is for UK-led academic, small and medium enterprise (SME) and wider industry research that will address a wide range of COVID-19 knowledge gaps/needs, and which will lead to a benefit in the UK, potentially international, public health within 12 months. The size of grants will vary according to the needs of each research project, but will need to provide a robust case for value for money.

23 April 2020 

New COVID-19 Research Activity dashboard on ODP

The COVID-19 Research Activity Dashboard is now available in the CRN’s Open Data Platform (ODP).


Online learning 

Improving Healthcare through Clinical Research’ is now available. Originally this had been scheduled to restart on 4 May.

The course is particularly useful for clinical colleagues or volunteers with an interest in research. The course covers the history, theory and practice of clinical research. Although it is not specifically focused towards the needs of COVID-19 research, several sections are highly relevant. There will be an extended period of actively moderated discussion (6 weeks rather than 4 weeks). Ongoing access to the course materials will be enabled for the foreseeable future.

There is also ongoing access to the content of ‘What is Health Research?’. This is particularly relevant for members of the public; helping inform their decision on whether to take part in research.


ARC KSS COVID-19 Response Projects Funding Call

Deadline Friday 1 May 2020

ARC KSS have announced a funding call to support applied health research specifically for COVID-19 response projects that show the potential to change practice for the benefit of the public, patients, service users and/or service providers.

More information can be found on the ARC KSS website under ‘Funding to support allied health research’.  


NIHR’s support for PPIE during the COVID-19 pandemic

NIHR remains strongly committed to patient and public involvement, engagement and participation (PIE) during the COVID-19 pandemic and has agreed eight new commitments for PIE. These commitments are aligned to the UK Standards for Public Involvement and will shape a shared NIHR approach to maintaining and progressing PIE during this period.


15 April 2020 

Study Support Service

Our way of working has changed in response to the current situation and our priority is to deliver 'Urgent Public Health Research studies.' Some of our usual service offerings will need to be suspended during this unprecedented situation. We have produced a document CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex activities during COVID-19 pandemic which outlines the activities that will continue to be provided.


Postponing Be Part of Research 2020 campaign

This year’s 'Be Part of Research' campaign to coincide with International Clinical Trials Day (ICTD) has been postponed. NIHR will still mark the day via social media channels. The online print shop has also been temporarily closed. We will let you know when it reopens. 


6 April 2020

Below is information which has been released over the last few weeks.

Pausing set-up of new or ongoing non COVID-19 studies

Until further notice, the NIHR CRN is pausing the site set-up of any new or ongoing studies at NHS and social care sites that are not nationally prioritised COVID-19 studies. During this time, the MHRA and HRA will continue to provide an approvals service for all studies, prioritised in accordance with the national situation, ensuring site set-up can restart promptly in due course.

This statement is available on the NIHR website DHSC issues guidance on the impact of COVID-19 on research funded or supported by NIHR

Additional information is available in the Q&A.

If you require assistance please make your request via email to our Study Support Service mailbox

CRN support and HRA Approval interdependencies

The new ‘Urgent Public Health’ application process provides the ‘official badging’ to enable CRN support to be provided to these priority studies. CRN support linked to the HRA Approval application specifically includes: 

  • attribution support through the completion of a Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Template (SoECAT) for non-commercial priority ‘COVID-19 Urgent Public Health’ research studies 
  • costing template validation for commercial studies

Supporting appropriate cost attribution and minimising duplicated commercial cost reviews are a key part of rapid set-up of these priority studies. Ongoing discussions with the HRA as part of the ‘Urgent Public Health’ application process described above will ensure there are clear communications in relation to expectations for these activities. Delivery of these activities will be reviewed in real time to enable reallocation across the CRN as necessary to provide this support in the current NHS environment.

Further information regarding expedited HRA Approval is available on the HRA website


SoECAT Authorisation and Process

The standard processes of SoECAT completion and submission to triage remain the same during this time. Please note, that CRN CC are prioritising ‘COVID-19 Urgent Public Health’ research studies and coronavirus research studies above all, and that the CRN will not be providing SoECAT advice or AcoRD guidance and support for any non COVID-19 studies at this time.


Pause to the National Contract Value Review implementation

After consultation with the leadership within NHS England and NHS Improvement and NIHR, the governance group for the National Contract Value Review implementation met on 12 March 2020 and decided to pause this process with immediate effect. CRN CC will be issuing further information and support for companies and sites that are sent COVID-19 studies using the iCT as a costing tool. Read the full statement here to find out what the pause in implementation means and the next steps.