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HSC R&D Division statement on Coronavirus (COVID-19) impact on research

HSC R&D Division is aware that the ongoing situation regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) is significantly impacting on the health and social care research community, and that the nature and extent of these impacts will evolve over the coming weeks and months.

Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of people – researchers, research participants, and those who support them, including our own teams.

Funded Awards

We recognise that many research projects funded by HSC R&D Division may need to be paused or changes made to research plans. We will continue to work to understand the full impact, and to ensure the appropriate support or advice is in place. Investigators should consider the impact of the current situation on their research teams and research participants, and should liaise closely with and follow the advice of their research sponsor organisations and host research organisations. Where HSC R&D Division is involved in funding a research project, due consideration will be given (on a case by case basis) to the following:

  • Budget reallocations or exceptional charges to Awards arising from travel/other restrictions
  • No-cost extensions
  • Restructuring of project deliverables, revision of timelines and in exceptional circumstances, terms of the Award
  • Costs associated with staff called away to work on the Coronvirus response (e.g. carrying out clinical duties)

Ongoing Studies

The NI Clinical Research Networks are key bodies for supporting health research activity in Northern Ireland. HSC R&D Division recognises that core network activity is likely to decrease during the current COVID-19 epidemic. The safety of participants already on research studies is paramount and should be a priority. HSC R&D Division supports the redeployment of Network staff to non-research clinical duties in order to maximise front-line clinical capacity at this time. Support of health research remains our core objective, and therefore the top priority for resource allocation is the support of COVID-19 related research studies. Research governance bodies will be prioritising review of Coronavirus (COVID-19) related research studies and may also be involved in the frontline response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic.

New Research Proposals

HSC R&D Division is also exploring what additional support it might be able to provide for Coronavirus (COVID-19) research studies in Northern Ireland. This aims to strengthen the evidence base to develop our understanding of COVID-19 which will be crucial for mitigating the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak. While the detail of this is being considered further, investigators interested in undertaking research in this area should contact replytoRD@hscni.net

HSC R&D Division
20th March 2020