13 Apr 2022

Opportunities for progress

Health Minister Robin Swann has welcomed plans to rebuild levels of clinical research paused as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In March 2020, many clinical research studies were paused to focus on research into Covid treatments and vaccines.

The UK wide Recovery, Resilience and Growth programme for Clinical Research is led by DHSC England and aims to ensure successful delivery of future research across all areas of health and social care. 
A specialist taskforce was established in March 2021 to develop a plan specific to Northern Ireland.

Joann Rhodes, CEO of the Health Innovation Research Alliance Northern Ireland, one of the organisations tasked with following through on the actions and recommendations said: “We welcome this step forward by the Department of Health and recognise that it is exactly at times of great crisis, such as the pandemic, that thought leaders double down on research and innovation in implementation plans.

HIRANI has been advocating for much more engagement with stakeholders to progress research and development into meaningful impact for the patient and staff through adoption of new technologies, procurement reform and service improvement in collaboration with industry, patients, and the whole ecosystem.

Northern Ireland as a region of the UK, which is the third biggest life sciences cluster in the world, is in a prime position to now move forward using this plan as a starting block for collaboration between industry, academia and our health and social care system.

Within HIRANI and along with partner organisations such as NICON and ABPI, we have been scoping out the opportunities for progress and looking at how other countries and regions worldwide have capitalised on health plans in partnership with other departments such as economy, finance and communities to have a shared plan to improve the health and wealth of citizens.

In welcoming the report, we would also call for a joint plan from within all of government to work together in establishing a health and economy partnership and would ask that this would be a key focus for the Programme for Government over the next session and beyond.”

Read the full plan