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Vacancy details

Closing date: 21 October 2021

Ophthalmology Specialty Research Lead (Kent, Surrey and Sussex)

CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex is seeking a highly motivated and research focused individual or job share to drive the clinical research agenda in the Ophthalmology speciality within Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

Working with the Deputy Clinical Director and Research Delivery Manager, the Specialty lead role is both high-profile and pivotal to the success of the Network. The successful applicant(s) will be expected to be an ambassador for Ophthalmology within the NIHR.

As well as a passion for bringing clinical research opportunities to patients, you will need an in-depth understanding of how the local NHS functions, an ability to forge and maintain productive partnerships across organisational boundaries, and the tenacity to deliver stretching targets in challenging environments.

The specialty lead position is available with immediate effect. A responsibility payment of £6,000 p.a is available for this appointment. The post is fixed term until 31 March 2022. The time commitment is typically 0.5PA (0.05WTE) commensurate with portfolio size.

The generic Speciality Research Lead job description is below.

Informal enquiries should be addressed to the Jane Hanson, Research Delivery Manager

Applicants should send expressions of interest in the form of a two page short CV and supporting statement by email to by 5.00pm on Thursday 21 October 2021.

The supporting statement should clearly outline relevant expertise for the post.

Virtual interviews by MS Teams will provisionally be available on the following provisional dates: Thursday 11 November 2021, 3.15pm to 4.30pm or Tuesday 16 November 2021, 4.30pm to 6.00pm.


Job description

Summary of essential outputs

  • Attendance at each national specialty meeting (face to face or teleconference) by the specialty lead and at least two of these must be face to face meetings.  If unable to attend one of these meetings, your Divisional Research Delivery Manager may deputise, provided sufficient notice is provided. Attendance at these meetings is monitored by the NIHR Cluster offices. 
  • Provide KSS leadership for delivering the NIHR clinical research specialty objectives.
  • Delivery of RTT (recruitment to time and target) for specialty commercial & lead non-commercial studies (HLO2)
  • To maximise the number of Patient Research Experience Surveys (PRES) returns for your specialty - HLO8
  • To contribute as a KSS specialty lead to NIHR Coordinating Centre requests for reviews on new trials as required.
  • To promote and improve early career researcher (ECR) involvement in NIHR research within your specialty.
  • Engage and encourage local clinicians and others to participate in NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio studies. Activities must extend across Kent, Surrey & Sussex.
  • Build upon local strengths, research interests and priorities and provide mentorship to those requiring support within the specialty.

Key relationships

  • LCRN Senior Management team
  • LCRN Deputy Clinical Director
  • Research Delivery Lead
  • NIHR CRN National Specialty Lead & Specialty Cluster Office
  • Local providers of NHS services including formal NHS Partners and other health and social care organisations
  • Investigator & wider research community delivering services
  • NIHR Clinical Research Network Coordinating Centre (CRNCC) and specialty leads from other LCRNs
  • LCRN wider team including all cross-cutting functions including the Study Support Service, Industry, Communications, Workforce Development, Patient and  Public Involvement & Engagement and Business Intelligence.


National NIHR and Clinical Research Network

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation’s largest funder of health and care research.  The NIHR:

  • Funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care
  • Engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research
  • Attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future
  • Invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services
  • Partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy. 

The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care.  In addition to its national role, the NIHR supports applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low and middle income countries using UK aid from the UK government.

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 places a statutory duty to promote research and powers to support it, on the Secretary of State and on all levels of the NHS including the NHS Commissioning Board and Clinical Commissioning Groups.  The NIHR provides a key means through which the Secretary of State discharges this duty.  The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research.

Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world.

The NIHR Clinical Research Network is led by a national Coordinating Centre and operates through 15 Local Clinical Research Networks (LCRNs).  These local health research networks deliver performance across the locality and champion the role of research in healthcare at every level.

At a national level the leadership of each of the 30 specialties is provided by a NIHR CRN Coordinating Centre through six Specialty Cluster offices, each hosted by a different Higher Education Institutions.

NIHR CRN Kent, Surrey & Sussex

Within CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex, we provide the infrastructure that allows high-quality clinical research to take place in the NHS in our region, so that patients can benefit from new and better treatments. We work with hospital Trusts (acute, community and mental health) GP surgeries, pharmacies, and other healthcare providers across Kent, Surrey and Sussex to support the set-up and timely delivery of commercial and non-commercial studies in the NHS in the region. We help to increase the opportunities for patients to take part in clinical research and ensure that studies are carried out efficiently. We also provide advice on study feasibility, streamlined NHS permissions and effective patient recruitment.

In addition to hospitals and local GP surgeries, we work with other organisations in the area, which include KSS Academic Health Science Network (KSS AHSN) , a membership organisation working for NHS, higher education, local government and industry organisations in KSS to spread innovation, improve health and generate economic growth. We also work closely with the NIHR Research Design Service South East (RDS SE) to bring the work of the two organisations closer together in the context of supporting higher quality non-commercial funding applications to peer-reviewed funding streams.

Our Clinical Leadership is a group of Clinical Specialty Research Leads and sub-specialty Leads who promote our research portfolio development through collaborative working across our partner organisations. We are hosted by Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.  

Role summary

The Specialty Research Lead (SRL) will play a key leadership role in the ongoing development and performance of the LCRN, providing leadership, advice and accountability for their specialty activities and research delivery.

The SRL provides the vital link between the local, geographically-based networks (LCRNs) and national networks of specialty-specific expertise which is essential to the success of the NIHR Clinical Research Network.
The SRL will lead the development of LCRN clinical and other related activity within a specified specialty:

  • Engage with the Deputy Clinical Director(s) & Clinical Directors to support successful research delivery
  • Engage and encourage local clinicians and others to participate in NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio studies
  • Build upon local  strengths, research interests and priorities.

The SRL will assist the Research Delivery Manager & the LCRN:

  • with the clinical and non-clinical perspectives of the delivery of the studies managed within the specialty
  • in the development of the local infrastructure to support the specialty’s local portfolio of research studies
  • undertake additional duties as requested by NIHR CRN Coordinating Centre, for example, Early Feedback Reviews to support the national Study Support Service offering to researchers and the Life Sciences Industry and Expert Review for academic studies not automatically eligible for the NIHR portfolio.

The SRL will engage with the National Specialty Leadership and relevant Specialty Cluster Office to:

  • contribute to national strategies and initiatives to support the successful delivery of the specialty’s national objectives.
  • act as the key link between the national networks of specialty-specific expertise and the LCRN. 

Strategic Priorities and Objectives

  • Strategic priorities: growth of portfolio studies delivered within the region, improved performance and increased collaboration within the NHS and other key organisations
  • Growth: Develop the portfolio in new areas, ensuring the LCRN plays to our regional strengths and contribution to the attainment of national speciality objectives.  This would include scoping and growing the portfolio to align to regional strengths and health needs of the local population.
  • Performance: Improve delivery of the high level objectives and to ensure a quality service.
  • Collaboration: Strengthen working relationships between and within organisations to facilitate the development of a balanced portfolio and reflect the diversity of health care provision and need.

Working with clinical and other health research active colleagues across the LCRN

  • Engage with the local clinical research community to ensure the timely and effective delivery of all the studies on the local NIHR Clinical Research Network portfolio.
  • Proactively promote local clinical and other health research active engagement and awareness of research within the specialty; provide advice, support, encouragement and mentorship to clinicians and other professionals who express an interest in becoming involved in a research project.
  • 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.
  • Work with local investigators, NHS and other organisations and the LCRN management team to agree and report on the objectives and targets for the specialty in order to contribute to LCRN performance over the annual planning cycle.
  • Provide a strategic overview of the local infrastructure required to support the research specialty with an emphasis on identifying and addressing local blocks to successful delivery; refer issues to the National Specialty Lead as appropriate.
  • Work with and support the NHS and other organisations within the LCRN to maximise their involvement in NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio studies with particular reference to industry studies.
  • Develop approaches to engage with Early Career Researchers, alongside local approaches and develop mentorship programmes as required within the community. 

Working with LCRN leadership

  • Support the Divisional team Deputy Clinical Director and Research Delivery Manager to ensure the LCRN delivers in line with the LCRN Host Organisation Contract.
  • Contribute to the development of CRN annual plans and reports and review progress against action plans and strategic objectives.
    Help to develop local research capacity for the specialty through actively seeking new opportunities for contributing to national multicentre studies and identifying local opportunities to expand expertise / experience across the LCRN’s geography as well as identifying studies suitable for placement within the community, social care and other appropriate settings.
  • Work with the Research Delivery 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.
  • 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.
  • Link with the NIHR local infrastructure (e.g. NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRC), NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Science, CLAHRCs / ARCs.) to develop effective partnerships.
  • Support the development of new ways of working that will increase the integration of health research and patient care / participant involvement, and improve the quality, speed and co-ordination of healthcare research.
  • Work in close collaboration with neighbouring LCRNs to remove any artificial barriers to participation in NIHR CRN Portfolio studies.
    Promote NIHR CRN activity and the aims, objectives and successes of the NIHR throughout the network area and represent the CRN at local, regional and national meetings.
  • Promote and contribute to enabling digital working and champion use of NIHR Hub and Local Portfolio Management System.


Working with national NIHR leadership

  • 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 in their locality.
  • locally-led studies that are open to recruitment at new sites.
  • emerging health care needs.
  • under-represented patient and the wider populations.
  • Work with the National Speciality Group to provide reviews, where requested, for the following central NIHR functions:
  • Early Feedback Service: Support for Commercial companies to get early feedback on study suitability and deliverability within the NHS and any other setting where portfolio research is delivered.
  • Portfolio eligibility: Advise on study suitability for adoption onto the NIHR Portfolio where the study is funded by a non-NIHR Partner.
  • Be an active member of the National Specialty Group, attending national meetings (2 out of 3 meetings as minimum and having a nominated Deputy when unable to attend.
  • Contributing to national initiatives led by the National Specialty Group.
  • 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. Activities may include acting as Lead for Industry Communications, PPIE, and Training etc.
    Contribute to national CRN initiatives, in particular developing and sharing best practice.
  • To engage with NIHR Academy including Senior Investigators.


Person Specification

The SRL will play a key leadership role in the on-going development and performance of the LCRN and will provide the vital link between the local, geographically-based networks (LCRNs) and national networks of specialty-specific expertise which is essential to the success of the NIHR Clinical Research Network. SRLs must be facilitative, be able to work flexibly and effectively in a developing organisation and to motivate and support others to deliver measurable results that make the NIHR CRN vision a reality.  

As a senior clinical leader within the LCRN, the appointee(s) will be able to act as an advocate and champion showing credibility amongst peers by actively being involved in the recruitment of participants.  This would be demonstrable by the individual(s) acting as a PI for at least one NIHR portfolio research study as well as supporting delivery of the relevant NIHR portfolio of research studies and their contribution to the national networks of specialty-specific expertise.

It is essential that candidates demonstrate their achievements, ability and expertise against the following criteria:

Essential criteria

Commitment to Trust Values and Behaviours:

  • Must be able to demonstrate behaviours consistent with the Trust’s Values and Behaviours.

Training and qualifications:

  • Higher specialist training in a medical discipline or equivalent professional training
  • On the appropriate professional register for example -  General Medical Council, UK Public Health, Nursing & Midwifery Council or other professional registers according to professional status e.g. Allied Health Professionals.


  • Experience of undertaking research in the relevant setting e.g. NHS, Public Health, Social Care
  • PI for at least one NIHR portfolio study
  • Experience of Committee work, including acting as a Chair
  • Effective leadership, flexibility, and change management skills
  • A motivational leader with well-developed interpersonal skills and the ability to work with stakeholders at all levels.

Communication and relationship skills:

  • Excellent communication and presentation skills
  • Experienced facilitator who is able to bring colleagues together for the benefit of the community in which they work.
  • Experience of working with a variety of stakeholders at a senior level, using strong negotiation, communication and influencing skills to achieve results through other people
  • Demonstrable enthusiasm for research and the role of SRL

Analytical and Judgement skills:

  • Ability to analyse and interpret specialised, confidential research management information and ability to make judgements regarding a range of highly complex research management issues
  • Strong problem solving skills

Planning and organisation skills:

  • Well-developed organisational skills  with  a  proven ability  to work  under pressure  and  to deadlines.

Physical skills:

  • Proven ability to work in a complex challenging environment
  • Able to travel around the Network as required 

Other requirements specific to the role:

  • Strongly committed to bringing benefits to patients through the delivery of excellent patient focussed clinical research within the NHS  and any other setting where portfolio research is delivered.

Equality and Diversity:

  • Able to demonstrate a commitment and understanding of the importance of treating all individuals with dignity and respect appropriate to their individual needs.