Research for Public and Patient Benefit (RfPPB)
In the Research Design and Conduct Service (RDCS) South East Wales team, we have been supporting 20 NHS-lead staff teams to develop applications for submission to the 2017 Health and Care Research Wales Research for Public and Patient Benefit (RfPPB) funding scheme. This scheme funds clinician-led research directed at achieving benefit for users of the NHS or public health of the people of Wales. It is an annual call, usually opening in November. Criteria are:
- applications must be led by clinicians
- the research can take a maximum of two years
- cost up to £230,000 (although smaller scale projects are also encouraged).
14 research proposals submitted with RDCS support
On the 16th January 2017, we joined 14 of those 20 teams in breathing a collective sigh of relief as their applications were successfully submitted. This represented a major achievement for all involved, including a lot of Centre for Trials Research staff as nine of those 14 studies were also adopted by the South East Wales Trials Unit within the Centre. The remaining six projects are still alive and kicking, they are taking shape in different form; some couldn’t be delivered within the funding or two-year time frame so they are being submitted to other calls, others were not ready so they may well be submitted next year or to other schemes in the meantime and at least one project has been re-designed as a fellowship application for the Chief Investigator.
The emphasis in the scheme on being clinician-led is something that marks this scheme out as being a bit different to many of the other research funding schemes and also makes it a really important opportunity for the clients of RDCS who are all NHS employees or working in social care. Some of the clinicians who have submitted in this round have been working on their applications for 18 months, building since their first draft of an idea which might have been prompted by the RfPPB call or by attending one of the RDCS SEW workshops that run through the year. The vast majority of NHS staff get no designated time for research so it can be incredibly challenging as a full time practitioner to try and carve out bits of time to develop a research application, often in their own time at evenings and weekends. Their Health Board Research and Development team will work with them on aspects of their application, in particular around governance and costings, but in the end it has to be the chief investigator and members of their team who have to do the thinking, reading, designing and writing.
Wide scope of research interests
Every year we have a rich array of topics and methodologies in the projects we support and this year has been no exception. These include:
- randomised controlled trials of the use of Botox for myofascial masseter pain
- from Bobath, a multi-disciplinary therapy approach for children with cerebral palsy
- a mixed methods study to co-develop an intervention for women presenting with reduced fetal movement in pregnancy
- a feasibility study of a youthwork service for young people living with diabetes
- an assessment of the benefits of wrist-worn movement sensors in epilepsy seizure measurement and evaluation
The next stage for the applications is the review by the prioritisation panel this month and then the final decision is made in mid-June, so we will know who has been successful by July.
Getting studies ‘adopted’
For RfPPB the scheme guidance recommends a combination of NHS and academic co-applicants and we encourage our clients to do this. One of the things that sometimes causes some confusion is the different roles of the Research Design and Conduct Service and trials units, particularly as all the RDCS_SEW staff work across RDCS and the Centre for Trials Research. Our job in RDCS is to help NHS and social care practitioners apply for funding and, whilst we are judged on the success rates of these applications, RDCS involvement stops once the application is submitted for funding. For four of the teams this time we provided advice but there is no further RDCS or CTR involvement in delivering those projects if they get funded.
Some of the teams specifically requested ongoing involvement from the trials unit, either in a partnership model or for full co-ordination of the study so these studies received the support of RDCS SEW but have co-applicants within the CTR who will be involved with the delivery of the project if it gets funded. There is certainly no pressure to link with any trials unit and for some studies it makes more sense for us to link the client with other centres or trials units if the clients research is their area of strength and focus.
Why use a clinical trials unit?
To find out how clinical trials units may help with delivering a research project, this informative video was put together by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) team. Although the funding call is different, the benefits and reasons for using a clinical trials unit are relevant and may be helpful in deciding if that is a route you wish to examine.
About the Research Design and Conduct Service
The Research Design and Conduct Service (RDCS) South East Wales supports staff working within the National Health Service and social care to develop high quality research funding proposals.