The network will play a critical and active role in supporting the health and care research system to bring innovative new treatments and care to patients, carers and the public.

The new National Institute for Health and Care Research – Research Delivery Network (NIHR RDN) will commence in 2024 to support the successful delivery of health and social care research in England. It will take over from NIHR – Clinical Research Network (NIHR CRN) building on its successes, including the remarkable efforts made during the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent recovery of the research system.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has designated the University of Leeds as the single host of the new NIHR RDN Co-ordinating Centre (RDNCC) from 1 April 2024. This contract has been awarded following a commercial procurement exercise.

From October 2024, they will be joined by 12 Regional Research Delivery Networks (RRDNs), hosted by NHS organisations the length and breadth of the country, to make up the NIHR RDN.

The network will operate as one organisation across England and will play a critical and active role in implementing government policy, including:

NIHR RDN will be a new organisation with new processes, structures and governance, working to ensure co-ordination and support through a consistent, customer-focused approach. It will increase capacity and capability across the health and care research system, supporting the successful delivery of high-quality research across England for the benefit of patients and the public. It represents a significant government investment to bolster the UK’s position as one of the best places in the world for innovative companies and investigators to carry out research.

It will work across the health and care system, with staff in all health and care settings, to support the effective and efficient initiation and delivery of research. This will benefit people receiving care now and in the future, support the NHS and social care services and generate benefits for the economy of the UK. 

Growing the amount of commercial clinical research will be a key strategic ambition for the new network. This follows the publication of the review into commercial clinical trials by Lord O’Shaughnessy in May 2023 which set out a clear blueprint for how the UK can return to its global leadership role. The government will shortly be responding to the review in full.

The network will focus on portfolio monitoring, identifying and resolving strategic challenges to ensure the research system is able to achieve its ambitions around innovative study methodology, increasing the diversity of populations taking part in research and broadening the settings in which research takes place. Research funders, sponsors and sites will remain responsible for the delivery of individual studies.

It will provide funding to study sites that can be used to support the costs of research delivery across the entire study delivery pathway. It will provide financial oversight to ensure this funding is being used to support research and development activities and provide dedicated support to ensure study sites are recovering all appropriate costs to sustainably fund and grow research delivery staff and facilities.

The network will provide an enhanced study support service which will facilitate smoother, interconnected access to research infrastructure for the life sciences industry and researchers. The expertise and site-level intelligence of staff from RRDNs will be drawn together with the national oversight and leadership of the RDNCC to provide a more effective end-to-end service for customers across the whole study pathway.


DHSC funds research through NIHR, who work in partnership with the NHS, universities, local government, other research funders, patients and the public to fund, enable and deliver world-leading health and social care research that improves people’s health and wellbeing and promotes economic growth.

See the NIHR press release for more information.

Published 14 November 2023