Industry Draws Up Action Plan on Brexit


The global skills shortage in the clinical research sector is being exacerbated in the U.K. by the uncertainty created by Brexit.

The global skills shortage in the clinical research sector is being exacerbated in the U.K. by the uncertainty created by Brexit - the planned exit of the U.K. from the European Union (EU) – which is causing staff to return to their home countries and employers to consider relocating all or part of their organization to non-U.K. EU countries, according to the organizers of this month’s emergency summit about Brexit.

IAOCR, the accrediting organization for the international clinical research industry, held its summit on April 5th. Now it’s producing an initial positioning paper aimed at U.K. politicians, and hopes to meet with the Prime Minister, Theresa May, next month.

In the eyes of most politicians, the U.K. clinical research sector is a “hidden” industry, and the profile of the sector needs to be raised so that the government recognizes clinical research as a sector in its own right and prioritizes it accordingly, noted a statement from IAOCR.

“The U.K. clinical research sector needs to position itself so that it can win clinical trials in the global marketplace,” it stated. “What is the USP (unique selling proposition) for the U.K. clinical trials sector? What can clinical research organizations and the government (individually and collectively) do to provide an attractive environment for clinical trials?”

The organization has the following specific recommendations:

  • Improve the regulatory environment by focusing on how to increase speed and efficiency and reduce red tape whilst ensuring patient safety and high quality. Ensuring people working in clinical trials are competent can also reduce errors.

  • Provide more tax incentives.

  • Provide an environment conducive to patient recruitment, e.g., by boosting awareness of clinical research.

  • Improve staff training and allow freedom of movement. Invest in developing staff through apprenticeships, university technical colleges, development of foreign language skills, and ensuring that promotions are based on proof of competence, not length of tenure.

  • Reduce costs of clinical research through a competence-based approach that facilitates improved efficiency and productivity, thus bringing new treatments to market quicker.

  • Re-introduce the role of a Minister for Life Sciences in the U.K. government structure.

Philip Ward is the European Editor for Applied Clinical Trials

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