Themes and Theme Groups

Realisation of our vision requires delivery of four interdependent and mutually enhancing strategic objectives that, collectively, will increase the quantity and quality of world-class research delivered in CRFs.

Our Objectives (UKCRFN Themes)

  • Supporting CRFs deliver Early Translational, Experimental Medicine (EM) studies
  • Facilitating the coordination and accelerated delivery of trials
  • Developing and sharing best practice for staff education, training and development
  • Delivering collaborative and coordinated public involvement, engagement and participation

These objectives are referred to as themes have replaced what we used to call "workstreams". Workstream Groups are now called Theme Groups, these groups draw together relevant experts from across the UK wide members to collaborate on specific projects that have been identified as challenges to effective operations. These projects have proven to be a highly effective system in developing tools to support operational activity of CRFs. These tools are then shared with the experimental medicine (EM) infrastructure via the UKCRF Network Hub site

Theme 1

Supporting CRFs deliver Early Translational EM studies

Theme Lead: Joanna Gray, Birmingham
Deputy Theme Lead: Karen French, Sheffield
Groups that come under this theme: Laboratory, Intensity and CRFManager®


The Intensity Workstream continues to ratify the Intensity Tool to meet the needs of CRFs when planning and managing resource allocation requirements. This tool has been devised to quantify clinical research activity and to define study intensity in a measurable way.

The tool is available through the UKCRF Network Hub and the UKCRF Network recommends it as an effective mechanism when planning resource allocation.

Laboratory Managers

The Lab Managers Work Group was established to exchange good practice, support laboratory activity and develop common standards. The group are involved in a number of activities to ensure that CRF management systems meet statutory requirements including the sharing of competency checking methods and teaching presentations and compiling a list of useful questions for MHRA inspections.

Theme 2

Facilitating the coordination and accelerated delivery of trials

Theme Lead: Paul Brown, Lancashire
Deputy Theme Lead: Stephen Barnett, London GSTT
Groups that come under this theme: IT and Costing and Sustainability 

Costing and Sustainability

The Costing and Sustainability Workstream provides a forum for CRF managers to share experiences and develop initiatives to support costing, invoicing and revenue recovery for clinical research conducted in CRFs. The key driver for the Workstream is to support effective financial management in CRFs, recognising that many CRFs receiving NIHR/core funding have a growing portfolio of studies which can provide income essential to long term sustainability.

Information Management & Technology

The IM&T Work Group aims to share ideas and expertise related to systems developments, emerging software and technology. Activities include considering cross-site IT developments and use of commonly developed systems and making IT recommendations to CRF Senior Management/CRF Network, seeking approval for proposed developments.

Theme 3

Developing and sharing best practice for staff education, training and development

Theme Lead: Jennifer Allison, Southampton
Deputy Theme Lead: Paula Darroch, London, GSTT
Groups that come under this theme: Education & Training, Research Nurses Group, Quality Assurance and Study Risk Assessment

Education and Training

The Education and Training Workstream provides a forum where Education & Training leads and nominated others from CRFs can share ideas and expertise related to education and training for CRF staff. Activities include promoting and sharing expertise and developments, determine and set overall strategic direction for CRF related education and research related training matters, and liaising with other relevant organisations, e.g. NIHR CRN CC, to ensure that the work of the group is up to date.

Research Nurses Group

The Research Nurses Group has been set up to develop and share key insights, ensure individual NIHR supported clinical research nurses have a professional development plan and access to skills development activity and to raise the profile and share the benefits of having an effective Clinical Research Nurse workforce to key stakeholders, including Industry.

Quality Assurance

The Quality Assurance (QA) Workstream aims to foster and facilitate collaborative working and sharing of good practice to develop common QA systems in clinical research facilities. Activities include the organisation and delivery of MHRA inspection workshops and the submission of standard operating procedures to the UKCRF Network.

Theme 4

Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPI/E)

Theme Lead: Caroline Saunders, Cambridge
Deputy Theme Lead: Caroline Barker, Southampton

The PPI/E Workstream was established at the 2013 CRF Conference to identify and develop a platform for shared work across the experimental medicine infrastructure. 

Groups that go across all themes:


The Paediatric Work Group has evolved in response to the needs of staff facilitating children to take part in research. It aims to share and develop best practice so will link to other Workstreams as appropriate. Initial goals are to support paediatric nurses working in isolation, identify education and training needs and act as a forum to resolve paediatric governance issues.

CRF Managers

The CRF Managers Association Work Group providing a constructive forum for CRF managers to share knowledge and expertise, time is used effectively, providing up to date information on best practice, future plans, tools and resources available as they are produced by the various Workstreams.

Visit the new UKCRF Network Hub Site at - for a username and password see Contacts.