Clinical Research Practitioners (CRPs) Sign Up to New Accredited Register
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has announced the launch of a new professional accreditation scheme for Clinical Research Practitioners (CRPs) as part of the UK-wide vision to empower and strengthen the UK research delivery workforce.
CRP is an umbrella title used for a family of roles in research delivery that have a patient-facing element and where the post holder isn’t currently registered to a healthcare profession. The accreditation scheme – delivered in partnership with the Academy for Healthcare Science Accredited Registers Programme and recognised by the Professional Standards Authority – is a significant step forward for the development of the profession and acknowledges their vital role within the UK research delivery workforce.
Once accredited, practitioners can display a CRP Accredited Register Quality Mark that provides reassurance to NHS employers, commissioners and the public that this is a profession committed to high standards.
Drawn from a diverse range of graduates and postgraduates working in fields such as biomedicine and psychology, they bring a wealth of knowledge and hold extensive research expertise. The scheme is open to practitioners working across the UK’s research landscape, with just under 1,000 practitioners, including those based in Contact Research
Organisations, already coming forward to apply for professional registration as a CRP. This will create a unified workforce across the NHS and life sciences industry all working towards the same standards of proficiency.
In England, CRP-eligible roles make up around 25% of the NIHR Clinical Research Network’s funded workforce, working alongside 5,000 research nurses to deliver the safe, ethical and high quality clinical research care that is transforming patient care and treatment. Their importance has been made especially clear during the COVID pandemic, where CRPs helped recruit 1,266,051 study participants across 205 NIHR-delivered coronavirus research studies conducted within the NHS to date.
The introduction of the register will improve professional identity, recognise the vital role CRPs play in research delivery, and provide a clear path for the career development of CRPs. The standards set are similar to the high levels found in statutory regulation for nursing and other allied health professions. A successful application to the accredited register demonstrates that practitioners meet a defined set of standards and work within an agreed scope of practice.
As well as providing well-deserved professional support to existing CRPs, it is hoped that many more potential applicants will apply, and the number of professionally registered CRPs will quickly increase to 2,000 within the next two years.
Dr William van’t Hoff, Chief Executive of the NIHR Clinical Research Network, said:
“I am really pleased with the progress made by the NIHR to nurture and develop the growing community of Clinical Research Practitioners. The new accredited register establishes the professional identity of CRPs and recognises the vital role they play in research delivery. The growth of the CRP profession is critical to the development of a vibrant future UK research workforce. It reinforces NIHR’s vision to create a clinical research environment which empowers everyone across the health service to participate in delivering research. I hope CRPs are empowered by this news and I encourage them to join the register and take the next step in their research career.”
Dr Bryan Deane, Director of New Medicines & Data Policy, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) said:
“The healthcare workforce plays a critical role in supporting and delivering commercial clinical research across the UK.
This accreditation scheme should empower more healthcare professionals to get involved with research, delivering against the ambition in the UK-wide Vision for clinical research delivery, to transform the UK clinical research environment, bolster the workforce and increase opportunities for research involvement and engagement.”
Dr Fiona O’Neill, Head of Registration Services: Clinical Research Practitioners, Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS), said:
“Working towards the launch of the CRP Accredited Register has been a big commitment for the AHCS. The launch of the accredited register provides an opportunity for eligible CRPs to demonstrate they are committed to their own professional development and can demonstrate how they are putting safety at the heart of their practice. Applying to the register also requires the supportive engagement of colleagues. This engagement is helping to establish a shared vision, respect and understanding of the CRP role. Accredited Registration provides a foundation, enabling the development of agreed Standards and providing a platform to connect and engage with CRPs. The AHCS looks forward to continuing collaboration and sharing our learning as we welcome more CRPs onto the register.”
How to get accredited
The first step towards accreditation for CRPs is to join the growing number listed on the CRP Directory, a community of Clinical Research Practitioners all playing a part in shaping their professional identity and practice. Developed by the NIHR in collaboration with the Academy for Healthcare Science, those listed can be connected with fellow CRPs, have access to the relevant learning resources, and stay updated on the accredited registration process.
In October 2018, the NIHR in collaboration with the Academy for Healthcare Science (ACHS) launched the CRP Directory as a space for CRPs to be consulted and to contribute to an application seeking registration for CRPs.
In 2019 CRPs, Clinical Research Nurses and Workforce Leaders were brought together as part of a national working group to shape the Scope of Practice and the Standards of Proficiency in a co-creative process with experts from the AHCS. These documents were shared through a wider consultation in the autumn of 2019 and feedback from this influenced the final submission documents put forward to the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) – the body that sets the standards for accredited registers of people who work in health and social care – for review in December 2019.
In April 2020 the application for accreditation was approved by the PSA and following a pilot the accredited register is now live.
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