The UK Dental School Council address regulatory and governance obstacles to medical research

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The UK Dental Schools Council (DSC) has this month responded to the Academy of Medical Sciences Review of the regulations and governance of medical research. Guidance was sought on the principles underpinning such research and evaluated significant obstacles to UK medical research as a result of regulation and governance.

These obstacles include bureaucratic and complicated research project classification systems where advice to researchers from R&D officers often clashes, stalling projects; poor ethical review of research proposals; inconsistent local reviews of multi-centre studies; lack of support and facilitation among regulators; NHS management risk-averse mindset; slow and unresponsive ethics committees; excessive policy-laden governance process; regulatory expectations and time scales impacting undergraduate research; NHS R&D charges to universities; and the increasing costs of gaining regulatory approval.

Universities and trusts are working together to lift the burden created by the regulatory and governance framework, but the industry does not wish to pursue private clinical trials management that has taken hold in the United States. Fast-tracking of low-risk projects and inter-regional acceptance of paperwork without duplication are viewed as improvement options. The respondents are calling for more revolutionary changes, such as reduction in paperwork, common procedures and a system of proportionality, educating the public about clinical research to build public trust and to encourage consent for trials; adequate risk assessments with a system of accountable officers; and robust approval processes.

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