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Rural, regional and remote clinical trial program

Improving access to innovative healthcare across NSW and ACT

NSW Health has been awarded funding of $30.6 million over five years from the Medical Research Future Fund – 2019 Rural, Regional and Remote Clinical Trial Enabling Infrastructure Grant scheme. The program proposed by NSW Health, along with 34 State and National partners across health, research, private and community sectors including ACT Health, will deliver increased and more equitable access to clinical trials for patients in rural, regional and remote (R3) NSW and ACT.

Clinical trials provide the most robust evidence to change clinical practice. Clinical trial involvement by patients, clinicians and healthcare organisations, offers early access to new treatments, skills, and medical technology, generating economic, medical and scientific benefits.

Health care environments active in research and trials have better outcomes due to many factors including better training and retention of staff. Australia has a long track record in leadership in clinical trials which continues to grow, and in which NSW is a key player.

In R3 settings, populations suffer worse health outcomes than in metropolitan areas, with shorter life expectancies. People in R3 areas also lack access to clinical trials, and hence to many innovative therapies.

Trials addressing the particular health needs of R3 populations are rare, resulting in a lack of evidence on how to improve practice in these settings. Barriers to research in R3 settings include geographical isolation, and lack of workforce experience, skills and capacity. These can make trials in R3 areas unattractive to sponsors. The result is inequality of access to trials and innovation.

Program key activities

The program aim will be achieved through the delivery of five interdependent key projects:

  1. Developing decentralised clinical trials capacity and capability: Delivering clinical trials directly to the community.
  2. Delivering locally through rural, regional and remote clinical trial support units: Supporting and developing the local workforce.
  3. Clinical trial awareness, engagement, recruitment and retention: Involving communities in clinical trials.
  4. Professionalising clinical trial services: Conducting trials to international best practice standard.
  5. Governance and project coordination.

Program outcomes

The intended outcomes of this program are to:

  1. Promote equality of access to trials, so that patients and clinicians in R3 NSW can participate in trials that may improve health outcomes, including multicentre, and metro-led studies.
  2. Provide better access to novel therapies available through clinical trials, including those therapies which may only be available in specialised centres.
  3. Increase the number of trials, commercial and non-commercial, run in R3 areas, with increased patient recruitment and increased clinician participation.
  4. Promote and support more trials specifically relevant to the needs of patients in R3 areas.
  5. Ensure quality conduct of trials, to the highest quality expected by regulatory agencies.
  6. Improve the speed and co-ordination of clinical trials by removing the barriers to their conduct, expediting governance and delivery, through high quality research support services in all R3 health and care settings.
  7. Develop the workforce through high quality learning opportunities, supporting employment in R3 settings, and building a community of practice.
  8. Ensure the sustainability of the network beyond the period of the grant.

Program principles

The following principles will guide the program of work:

  1. CORE values of NSW Health – Collaboration, Openness/accountability, Respect and Empowerment
  2. Participant-centred: We will engage patients, carers and the wider public as partners in all of our activity, to improve research quality and relevance, to ensure patients have an optimal participation experience in clinical trials, and that conditions of greatest importance to patients are well represented in the portfolio.
  3. Inclusive partnership and collaboration: The project will be collective with collaborative working as key to our shared success. We will have strong relationships with our partners and be responsive to their feedback. Our partners will be:
    a. healthcare providers: to streamline and performance manage network support for trials, ensure that trial conduct is efficient, and ensure that support costs are covered; minimise bureaucracy and find pragmatic solutions to problems; integrate health research and patient care, and promote a strong research culture.
    b. clinical trialists and academics who will drive methods and innovation in delivery
    c. medical technology, pharmaceutical and eHealth industries to meet their trial needs.
    d. counterparts in metropolitan areas, other states and networks.
  4. Effectiveness and efficiency: We will provide a consistently reliable and excellent service to researchers in all studies, in all parts of NSW, agnostic to discipline/type of trial. We will monitor progress and delivery and adapt as needed.
  5. Development: We will continue to learn and develop the best approaches to delivery of R3 trials. We will continuously review and improve all our structures and systems to ensure the quality, speed and cost-effectiveness of clinical research. We aim to be a world leader in methodology and delivery of R3 trials.

Updated 1 month ago