This strategy can also be downloaded as a PDF



We are committed to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) across the UKCRF Network. We know that diverse people and communities shape and improve our research. This Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy (2023) will highlight our ambition and responsibilities to develop and strengthen EDI culture across the whole of the UKCRF Network.


We have tried to minimise acronyms in this strategy.
The ones we have used can be found below:  

  • CRF: Clinical Research Facility 
  • EDI: Equality, diversity and Inclusion 
  • NIHR: National Institute for Health and Care Research 
  • PPIE: Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement
  • SMT: Senior Management Team 
  • UKCRF Network: United Kingdom Clinical Research Facility Network
  • WP: Work Package


UKCRF Network key definitions listed:  

Clinical Research Facility: purpose-built facilities in NHS hospitals where researchers can deliver studies. These studies may be in an early phase (when a researcher is looking at whether something is safe or effective).   

Collaboration: to work with someone else to produce something.

Cross cutting: linking the separate work groups and working together.

Equality: ensuring that everyone is given equal access to resources and opportunities to use their skills and talents.    

Equity: trying to understand and give people what they need to achieve their potential;  some individuals or groups may need additional help or resources to achieve their goals.   

Experimental medicine: research undertaken in people to better understand the cause of disease and/or test new treatments, also known as early phase clinical research

Diversity: being reflective of the wider community. Having a diverse community, with people from a broad range of backgrounds represented in all areas and at all levels.  

Inclusion: an approach where groups or individuals with different backgrounds are welcomed, culturally and socially accepted, and treated equally. Engaging with each person as an individual. A sense of belonging that is respectful of people for who they are.  

Intersectionality: a framework that acknowledges that all people have unique experiences of discrimination and disadvantage exacerbated by the overlap of multiple social identities.   

Outward facing: work that is related to people and their experiences and how we can work together with the other work packages and their work.

Proportionate: all the CRFs in the UKCRF Network are different in size, budget, speciality and workforce. This means that we can provide resources to all and work equitably (equity definition above) to create balance (equal).

Public members: include patients, potential patients, carers, and people who use health and social care services as well as people from organisations that represent people who use services.

Research: discovering new knowledge that could lead to changes in treatments, policies, or care.

Stakeholder: a person or people  such as an employee or customer who is involved with an organisation, and has responsibilities towards it and an interest in its success.



The UK Clinical Research Facility Network leads and coordinates ‘best practice’ for both NIHR (National Institute of Health and Care Research) and non-NIHR Clinical Research Facilities (CRFs) to benefit patients and the public across the UK and Ireland. By working together, sharing expertise, best practice, training, and development for CRF workforces, and delivering networked experimental medicine and early-phase research trials.  

Clinical Research Facilities provide:

  • Dedicated purpose built, flexible clinical research spaces. 
  • A highly skilled, agile, and experienced workforce.  


To date, the UKCRF Network has over 50 Clinical Research Facilities, over 110 individual units and over 310 working group members from all over the UK and Ireland (see figure 1). 

Figure 1: map of all CRFs across UK and Ireland

UKCRF Network e-Brochure (link)

Vision and Statement of Commitment

Equality, diversity, and inclusion is crucial to how we can, as a Network, support CRFs to achieve. Our vision is to continue building relationships and supporting our CRF communities, who all differ in specialty, size, budget, and workforce. Working with our diverse geography of CRFs, we continue to learn and evolve from across all aspects of the research community, including the needs of the CRF workforce and public members.  

We pride ourselves on being responsive to implement operational changes to support our CRFs in the delivery of experimental medicine and early phase research. To do this we have four Work Packages (WP): 

  • WP 1: Operational Delivery
  • WP 2: Strategic Leadership
  • WP 3: Workforce Development 
  • WP 4: Involvement and Inclusion 

Each WP is made up of  working groups (figure 2), that focus on operational, strategic and workforce needs. WP 4: Involvement and Inclusion, is cross cutting, linking and working together across and with the other Work Packages and Working Groups.  

Work Package 4: Involvement and Inclusion

WP 4 is focussed on Public and Patient Involvement, Engagement (PPIE), and Participation; and Research Inclusion (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion – EDI). Alongside PPIE, EDI is a UKCRF Network key priority, with a commitment to increase diversity of its members both within its leadership structure, members, research and CRF EDI Champions. As a Network, we align to NIHR EDI Strategy for 2022-2027, to support people from diverse backgrounds into research by providing appropriate training, resources, guidance, and support to embed EDI within research. The UKCRF Network is built on the expertise of people from across the UK and Ireland, who all have different experiences and backgrounds, coming together with new initiatives, engaging with national stakeholders to share and implement best-practice.

In our commitment, we are demonstrating a step change from the very start of this strategy, by increasing resources and opportunity to embed EDI across all Work Packages. WP 4: Involvement and Inclusion (Public Involvement and Research Inclusion) resources include funding for: WP Lead, WP Deputy Lead for Inclusion, Group Chair, and Link Director (see figure 3).

We expect to face challenges. Work in equality, diversity and inclusion can be uncomfortable, especially when addressing topics such as structural barriers because of background or race. We will work together collaboratively with organisations and industry partners and share experiences with each other to overcome any challenges. We will ensure that our CRF community knows that we are committed to supporting them.  

Figure 2: Working Groups

Working in Partnership

The UKCRF Network, established in 2008, is funded by NIHR, hosted by Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and works in partnership with the Chief Scientist Office (Scotland), Health and Care Research Wales and Health Research Board (HRB Ireland), to support CRFs deliver world leading experimental medicine and early phase clinical research. 

The UKCRF Network collaborates with CRFs and other experimental medicine infrastructure including: 

  • National Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure (NOCRI), 
  • Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres (ECMCs) 
  • NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs)
  • Translational Research Collaborations (TRCs) 
  • Advanced Therapy (ATIMP) Accelerators across the UK/Ireland. 

CRFs are different in size, scope of operations, funding, location, specialities and workforce. Our WP4 ambition is to support CRFs to deliver equitable, inclusive and diverse research that reduces health inequalities by delivering a programme of work that is relevant and proportionate to our CRF community and which addresses the challenges many experience.

We will work with stakeholders including NIHR EDI infrastructure.  

Governance and Lines of Reporting

The UKCRF Network has its own internal governance structures with reporting lines, strengthened by members sitting within their own CRF governance structures and through public member steering groups for key decision-making. The governance arrangements are outlined in figure 3 below, illustrating how we work together. 

The UKCRF Network is led by a Senior Leadership and Management Team, with Work Package Leads and Deputies delivering our work programme, supported by working groups and a central Operations Team. Our leaders are appointed, by open invitation recruitment to posts, from CRFs across the UK and Ireland utilising our expertise to drive forward actions and coordinate a national early phase research delivery platform as ‘one CRF.’  

The UKCRF Network Governance structure (figure 3): delivery of Work Package objectives is reviewed and monitored at Work Package meetings (~x 3 per year) and UKCRF Network Senior Management Team Meetings (~x 6 per year). Work Package outputs and impact are reported annually in the UKCRF Network Annual Report to NIHR and at the UKCRF Network annual conference. 

Regular updates are provided to UKCRF Network Senior Leadership Team (Directors, Clinical Leads & Deputies) and to the UKCRF Network Strategic Advisory Board (twice yearly) and to UKCRF Network Stakeholder Group (as required).

The Research Inclusion Work Group, in addition to providing peer support, and  scoping workforce development, will collaborate with individual CRF EDI Leads and their public members, to support our activities by providing real life experience, ensuring EDI across the UKCRF Network.  

Figure 3: UKCRF Network Governance Structure

Our Goals

Our goals have been developed in line with NIHR’s EDI strategic themes. Embedding EDI into the UKCRF Network, we have reflected our maturity level using the Veza Global Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Maturity Model. Although early in our EDI compliance, this strategy will highlight how we are going to transform our approach to research inclusion across all Work Packages. This is a learning process, and we will be drawing on evidence and best practice from our partners and collaborators, in partnership with our funders, to ensure long term success.  

In our commitment we have started embedding diversity and inclusion across our organisation and have increased our focus on inclusive culture. Our goal is to sustain an inclusive research environment where everyone can contribute to improving health and health care through research, whether they are a patient, member of the public or part of the research workforce.

We have collaborated with stakeholders, members of the UKCRF Network community and CRF EDI Champions across the UK and Ireland to define and develop our objectives.  

Embedding EDI in UKCRF Network Work Programme

WP1: Operational leadership, supporting CRFs in providing excellent operational activities. 

EDI is a key priority, with a commitment from the UKCRF Network to increase diversity of its members both within its leadership structure and membership, meeting Workforce Race-Equality Standards. The Network will embed results from the Race-Equality Framework pilot which was conducted at several NIHR-CRFs.

WP2: Strategic plan to deliver a nationally integrated early phase research delivery platform with dedicated senior clinical leadership.

Working with stakeholder groups (patients, industry, charities, NIHR infrastructure), WP2 will deliver a nationally integrated EDI-focused early phase research delivery platform for adults and children. This includes dedicated senior clinical leadership from both the Clinical Lead and Deputy Leads of UKCRF Network and topic-specific Director leads.

WP3: Plans for developing/supporting skills training/workforce development.

Support our workforce by creating shared learning opportunities and provide peer support, promote working in CRFs and expand career pathways and retain talent. Embedding EDI will be key principles of the design and delivery of our programme

WP4: Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE), Participation and EDI

Provide Peer support, sharing best practice, and providing training and development in PPIE and EDI across the UKCRF Network. PPIE and EDI sit alongside each other and work together to achieve our goal of Involvement and Inclusion throughout the UKCRF Network but they are different. We recognise the close working and common themes of both being ‘outward’ facing [WP4 is relating to people and their experiences] themes [UKCRF Network PPIE strategy], but they are independent of each other. 

Changing the working structure, alongside the Lead for WP4 there will also be two deputies, one for PPIE and another specifically for Research Inclusion (EDI). Both roles sit in the Senior Management Team and will support our CRF EDI Leads to deliver their EDI initiatives. A Research Inclusion Working  Group is in development. Members of this Working Group will include CRF staff and public members who have EDI as part of their role. They will be identified and invited to join via an EDI Priorities Survey (see below). EDI is cross cutting across all UKCRF Network Work Packages.  

Examples of planned cross cutting Work Package activities that will include EDI representation:


  • WP1: Develop UKCRF Network Marketing Materials
  • WP2: Industry Expression of Interest Group for Experimental Medicine Industry studies
  • WP3: EDI CRF staff  training and development
  • WP4: Research Inclusion Champions will  contribute to WP4 core business including meetings, conference sessions, document/tool development, dissemination and evaluation

Supporting the UKCRF Network Workforce

We will undertake baseline surveys of CRF staff to understand the current EDI status of staff in leadership roles and staff access to training and development. We will deliver a programme of work that is relevant and proportionate, aiming to address and overcome the challenges many CRFs experience in implementation and delivery of research inclusion initiatives / strategies (dual roles, staff turnover, budget constraints, capacity).

We will build capacity, capability and confidence: Informed by a UKCRF Network Workforce Survey (2022), we will support our PPIE and EDI Leads to work collaboratively and with confidence by providing peer support forums, leadership and skills training, and opportunities for joint working as detailed in our objectives.

We will act on the findings of a UKCRF Network EDI Priorities Survey completed by CRFs in October 2023.

UKCRF Network EDI SMART Objectives 2023-2028

  1. Embed EDI across the governance and operations of the UKCRF Network.

We will achieve this through the following actions (click + for more details on each)

a) Develop a UKCRF Network EDI Strategy & operational delivery framework

Key Outcomes: EDI embedded in the Network governance, operations and culture.

Time-scale: Short term (1-2 years)

Success criteria: 

i. WP 4 Lead and EDI Deputy appointed to deliver UKCRF Network research inclusion objectives

ii. Network EDI Strategy agreed by Senior Management Team, Senior Leadership Team & NIHR

iii. EDI Deputy or Chair included in other Network Work Package meetings & projects

vi. EDI representation at Network Governance and Operational Forums: Senior Management Team; Senior Leadership Team; Strategic Advisory Board

b) Provide virtual, face-to-face and hybrid forums for CRF EDI Leads and Managers

Key Outcomes: Provision of peer support, directory of CRF EDI Leads, and opportunities to share best practice.

Time-scale: Short term (1-2 years)

Success criteria: 

i. Four EDI Working Group meetings scheduled per year, one face-to-face at the UKCRF Network Annual Conference

ii. UKCRF Network Directory of EDI Champions willing to contribute to Work Package projects

iii. Buddy/ mentorship arrangements defined for CRF EDI Leads

c) Scope cross-cutting projects for joint working with other Network Work Packages

Key Outcomes: 

WP1 Project: Address barriers to research participation & develop tools to address these

WP2 Project: Marketing materials

WP3 Project: Review of access to CRF workforce training and development opportunities

Time-scale: Short term (1-2 years)

Success Criteria:

i. WP1 – Project plan agreed for years 2-3 to assess and address barriers to research participation

ii. WP2 – Project plan agreed for years 2-3 to develop and improve marketing materials

iii. WP3 – Project plan to agreed for years 2-3 to review and improve access to workforce development

2. Understand current CRF capacity and capabilities to embed and deliver EDI locally and across the Network

We will achieve this through the following actions (click + for more details on each)

a) Undertake baseline CRF EDI surveys, and share and act on findings

Key Outcomes:

Resources available to CRFs to deliver EDI

Training and education available to CRF staff to deliver / comply with EDI including a training needs analysis for EDI

Current systems in use in CRFs to collect participant EDI data

Time-scale: Short term (1-2 years)

Success Criteria:

i. Resource Survey designed, completed, action plan for years 2-3 agreed

ii. EDI training and education provision reviewed, training needs for CRF workforce (Managers, EDI Lads and delivery staff) identified,    action plan for years 2-3 agreed

 iii. CRF Participant EDI data collection status Survey designed, completed, action plan for years 2-3 agreed

3. Work with national leads to build CRF capacity, capability and confidence to deliver on national EDI requirements

We will achieve this through the following actions (click + for more details on each)

a) Establish links with national leads and stakeholders (NIHR, Devolved Nations, Ireland)

Key Outcomes: CRFs EDI Leads have capacity and capability to contribute to and deliver on national EDI strategic initiatives

Time-scale:  Medium term (2-3 years)

Success Criteria: 

i. CRFs have capacity and capability to contribute to and deliver on national EDI strategic initiatives.

ii. National Leads contribute to Network EDI forums.

b) Evaluate and update UKCRF Network EDI Strategy

Key Outcomes:UKCRF Network EDI Strategy is refreshed, Medium and Long Term objectives agreed and remain relevant to CRFs

Time-scale:  Medium term (2-3 years)

Success Criteria: 

i. UKCRF Network EDI strategy and objectives are updated to reflect national priorities for years 3-5

4. Deliver action plan agreed with WP1 to address barriers to research participation & develop tools to address these

We will achieve this through the following actions (click + for more details on each)

a) Implement agreed action plan developed with WP1, review and agree next steps

Key Outcomes: Implemented action plan and completed evaluation

Time-scale: Long term (4-5 years)

Success Criteria: 

i. Tools developed to address barriers to research participation developed, implemented, evaluated and shared as best practice 

Monitoring Outcomes

We know that our initial objectives are focusing on short-term goals, but these are laying the foundations and will be used to build a rolling programme of work and projects over this 5-year funding cycle. We will:   

  • Review progress via regular meetings: currently monthly for WP 4 leads, every other month at Senior Management Team meeting (see figure 2 for governance structure), WP 4 will give 3 updates per year against our objectives and add any EDI considerations on the standing agenda items.  
  • Plan quarterly meetings for the Research Inclusion working group, at least one face to face meeting at the UKCRF Network annual conference.
  • Using the data collected from CRF EDI priorities survey, we will work together with CRF work group members, Senior Management Team and public contributors who will shape our work. We will return to these questions, and this will inform us for year 3 of the strategy.


We would like to thank those who have contributed to this strategy:

  • UKCRF Network public contributors
  • CRF Managers and PPIE Leads for completing the EDI priorities survey
  • UKCRF Network Senior Leadership Team
  • UKCRF Network Senior Management Team
  • NIHR research inclusion Team, who provided advice along the way



To find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at the UKCRF Network, please email:
[email protected] or [email protected].