Former UK health minister appointed to review country's clinical trial environment

The U.K. government has named James O’Shaughnessy, a former health minister, to lead an independent review of the state of commercial clinical trials in the country.

The review was spurred on by government statistics that showed a 44% decline in recruitment of patients to commercial clinical trials between 2017 and 2021, a situation exacerbated by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

It will also look for new ways to recruit and conduct trials in order to speed diagnosis, enhance treatment and enable the National Health Service (NHS) to deliver world-class care and remain a life sciences “super power,” the government said in a Feb. 20 press release.

“We’re harnessing the same spirit of innovation that delivered the COVID-19 vaccine and working hand in hand with the NHS, industry and healthcare experts to get cutting-edge medicines to patients faster,” U.K. Health Minister Will Quince said in the release.

The review is expected to expand the government’s 10-year vision for clinical trials—dubbed Saving and Improving Lives: The Future of UK Clinical Research Delivery—that was published in March 2021. O’Shaughnessy’s work will also incorporate the Recovery Resilience and Growth program, which is designed to bring partners across the health system and industry together to accomplish the 10-year plan.

The O’Shaughnessy-led task force is expected to publish its recommendations this spring, which will include suggested priority actions for the rest of 2023 as well as outlining long-term actions for clinical trials in the U.K.