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Developing paediatric chief investigators within the NHS: the Clinical Trials Scholars programme
  1. Jeremy Kirk1,
  2. Fiona Reynolds2,
  3. Elizabeth Adey1,
  4. Matthew Boazman1,
  5. Matthew Brookes3,
  6. Peter Brocklehurst4
  1. 1 Research and Development, Birmingham Children's Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK
  2. 2 Chief Medical Office, Birmingham Children's Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK
  3. 3 Clinical Research Network (West Midlands), Birmingham, UK
  4. 4 Institute of Applied Health Research, Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Jeremy Kirk, Research and Development, Birmingham Children's Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham B4 6NH, UK; jeremy.kirk1{at}

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Proportional spending on both clinical care1 and research2 is significantly less for children than adults. Additionally, over the last decade, there has been both a reduction in academic clinicians in paediatrics, but also in sessions dedicated to research, part of supporting professional activities (SPAs).2 Given these competing pressures, we describe the outcomes of the first cohort of an initiative to support research active paediatric consultants at our hospital, giving them a dedicated day a week based in a local Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) and enabling them to develop as chief investigators (CIs).


Despite a substantial increase in the number of clinicians over the last two decades, the number of academic clinicians has remained relatively static at Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH). The issue was further exacerbated in 2017 by a reduction in SPAs, including those for research, along with reduction in the number of Clinical Excellence Award (CEA) points per eligible consultant, with the weighting of the CEA Research and Innovation domain well below that of the other four (1.0 cf. 1.5–2.5).

As a consequence, there were concerns that research-active clinicians would find it increasingly difficult to generate new research studies. This was confirmed regionally by the fact that although the West Midlands region represents over 10% of the English population, in 2017 only 6.4% of CIs for National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) portfolio studies were based in the region. At that time, no consultant in the hospital held an NIHR grant as CI or co-applicant.

Following an approach from the Birmingham CTU, we jointly developed a Clinical Trials Scholarship (CTS) programme in 2018, to develop new CIs and studies. The programme is geared towards those at an early part of their research career. It provides clinicians …

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.