CSO Statement on guidance to protect research during a second wave of COVID-19 activity
22nd October 2020
Research, development and innovation are an integral and vital part of our NHS. The Chief Scientist Office (CSO) has been working with colleagues across the NHS to support the restarting of research paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This work has been guided by the Restart Framework developed by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in consultation with the Devolved Administrations and published on the CSO website.
Numbers of COVID-19 positive cases have increased across many areas, in particular since late August. In response to this, the NIHR have developed guidance to ensure the protection of research during a second wave of COVID-19 activity
This ensures COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 research is protected in the event of increased pressure on wider clinical services. Scotland and the other devolved administrations have been fully involved in its development and are supportive of the guiding principles.
- Study prioritisation levels in the Restart Framework remain unchanged
- Urgent Public Health (UPH-badged) studies remain the highest priority for research support. COVID-19 vaccine studies, prioritised by the Vaccine Task Force and by the NIHR UPH Panel, are also part of this highest priority group
- Pausing studies should be a last resort only after all efforts have been made to maintain recruitment rates alongside other research and clinical activity. Reducing recruitment rates would be an option to consider before studies are re-paused. Pausing or stopping a study altogether should only occur if there are no other options
- The principles set out in the Restart Framework should be invoked and where necessary re-assessments should be undertaken
- The deployment of staff funded through NHS Research Scotland to front line duties should only occur in exceptional circumstances so that UPH-badged studies (including vaccines studies) and wider non-COVID-19 portfolio research activity can be maintained
- The deployment of clinical academic staff (both medical and non-medical) should be undertaken within the guidelines issued by a working group convened by the UK Clinical Academic Training Forum and the Conference of Postgraduate Medical Deans of the UK
- In the event of a major rise in cases and patients, the NHS may pivot to primarily focusing on managing the COVID-19 caseload. In these circumstances, guidance may need to be updated. CSO will publish any update to the guidance
CSO has convened both Operational and Strategic Groups to monitor restart and to share best practice and support development of operational processes and national guidance to support the resumption of non-COVID-19 research activity across NHS Research Scotland. These groups have supported work of direct relevance to protecting and increasing resilience of research in the context of increased COVID-19 activity.
- Further information can be found at www.nrs.org.uk/coronavirus
- Read the full NIHR guidance for a second wave of COVID-19 activity