Home News Clinical research costs

Clinical research costs

Published: 4 May 2012

Medical charities and Department of Health agree new approach to attributing the costs of health and social care research

Today the Department of Health and the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) announce the publication of new guidelines for attributing the costs of health and social care research and development (AcoRD).

AcoRD establishes a mechanism for the Department of Health to meet some of the costs of charity-funded research in the NHS, for charities that are members of AMRC. The agreement recognises the unique contribution medical research charities make to excellent research in the NHS – of the over 3,000 clinical studies conducted in the NHS in 2009-10, 37 per cent were funded by AMRC member charities and charities spend more than £1bn on research each year.

Health research is a core NHS activity and the Health and Social Care Act (2012) puts research at the heart of the NHS for everyone. Public funders – the government, through the National Institute of Health Research (the research arm of the Department of Health) and research councils - and medical research charities working together with the private sector, make the NHS one of the world’s leading organisations for hosting clinical and applied health research.

Through the AcoRD guidance the Department of Health has recognised that charities are a special case because their funds come from donations by patients and the public.

Sharmila Nebhrajani, chief executive of AMRC, said:

‘We polled nearly 1,000 adults last year; 92 per cent told us they believe it’s important for the NHS to support research funded by charities. We welcome the helpful approach of the Department of Health in developing AcoRD which does just that. This Department of Health support will maximise the investment of charity funds in NHS research so that the money goes directly towards funding research that leads to better health outcomes for patients.’

Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said:

‘Today’s announcement recognises the vital contribution that charities like Cancer Research UK make towards funding medical research in the UK. As a charity we fund the majority of NHS cancer trials – research that is driving forward huge progress and saving lives from cancer. This vital work wouldn’t be possible without the huge generosity of our supporters and, by working in partnership with the Department of Health, we can ensure we continue to make the best possible use of their donations.’

Professor Dame Sally C Davies, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health, said:

‘Clarifying the principles for attributing the costs of research will help medical research charities continue to make a major contribution to improving health outcomes.’


Notes to editors

1. AcoRD comes into effect in England, for research grant applications submitted after 1 October 2012.

2. Clinical research incurs research, support and treatment costs. Research costs are paid for by the grant funder, except in some instances where they are paid by the Department of Health because the grant funder is an AMRC member charity. Support costs are paid for by the Department of Health through NIHR.  Treatment costs are paid for by the NHS. The principles for defining these costs were established in 1997, in HSG (97)32, and have not changed.

3. The guidelines on implementing clinical research costs, ARCO (Attributing revenue costs of externally funded non-commercial research in the NHS) were agreed in 2005. AcoRD is a revision of ARCO. It takes into account changes to the research landscape and the development of the NIHR Clinical Research Networks, which provide research infrastructure for studies taking place in the NHS.

4. The Department of Health’s decision to make a special case for AMRC medical research charities is similar to HEFCE’s practice in providing additional funding to universities to support the costs of charity-sponsored research.

5. The Department of Health and AMRC have agreed to work together on the implementation and monitoring of the new guidance. This will include gathering data to assess the impact of the guidance on the costs of research and to provide assurance that the new guidelines do not have unintended consequences. Initial monitoring will take place in April 2013.