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Covid-19 Thank you from HSC R&D Division

Dear Colleagues working in R&D,

As a funder of HSC R&D Infrastructure, we wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for all the work you have done so far and are continuing to do, in supporting research during the Covid-19 pandemic. So much has been achieved and your role, whether on the front line of research or in a supporting role, has not gone unnoticed.

For example, we are aware that across the HSC R&D system more than ten of the urgent public health studies, including a high priority vaccine study, are being delivered. Recruitment to these studies will soon be well over 1000 participants in NI. In addition, follow up of participants in non-covid research is ongoing and where possible new recruitment is happening. Many interventional cancer research studies have now been able to reopen, as well as a few new studies set up.

We know that many of you have been working harder and longer in stressful circumstances. We know that work has had to be delivered at speed but that in doing so you have maintained your reputation for high quality. We know that the size of the R&D infrastructure in NI is small compared to other regions, and therefore the way in which you have come together as individuals and organisations, across different structures, to set-up and deliver priority research, has been particularly impressive.

We want you to know that during this time we have used many opportunities to raise awareness to Government and the public the vital role of research. Ultimately we want to, not just secure, but increase the budget for HSC R&D. We will also want to take time to hear from you about the challenges, but also any sense of achievement you have felt in being part of this effort. We want to learn from what has worked well and what hasn’t, so that we continue to have the right R&D infrastructure for the future, as well as know how to better support those working within it.

We acknowledge that there are still significant challenges ahead and with that in mind, it will be important to continue to find ways for all of us to look after ourselves and our families. For now, please be encouraged and proud of what you are doing.

Best wishes

HSC R&D Division