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RCOphth responds to new framework for restarting National Institute of Health Research activities

27 May 2020

The National Insitute of Health Research NIHR has set out a framework to guide the restarting of NIHR research activities which have been paused due to COVID-19. This framework has been developed in cooperation with Devolved Administrations who will produce aligned, but specific guidance for their area.

Commenting on the new framework, RCOphth Academic Committee Chair Professor Jugnoo Rahi said:

“This framework for restarting non-COVID-19 clinical research and trials supported by NIHR is welcome and provides clarity on operational issues. It is notable that the first principle relates to assessing viability of paused research because regrettably some research may not continue.

“A significant impact of the COVID-19 emergency has already been felt across full spectrum of clinical, population health and laboratory research within ophthalmology and visual sciences and the long term future scale and scope of this impact is increasingly being recognised. Equally academic ophthalmologists have been universally affected, be that through interruption of research studies due to paused recruitment to patient facing research or closure of universities and other academic facilities. Many academic ophthalmologists have also been re-deployed to support frontline NHS services, including those who interrupted their academic training and research to do so. Guidance and firm commitments from NIHR to mitigate the impact through costed extensions of NIHR funded clinical academic training schemes and career development awards would be welcome.”