At a systems level members of Liverpool Health Partners (LHP) work collaboratively to convene excellence in innovation, research and education. In 2019, LHP launched the Single Point of Access for Research and Knowledge (SPARK) to expedite and standardise the development and set up of clinical research across the University of Liverpool, 7 NHS Trusts and one CCG, with further LHP members to join endeavours over time. The full research pathway of study development through to support for delivery is provided by the North West Coast Clinical Research Network (CRN NWC) for portfolio studies. They work collaboratively with SPARK who also support the wider research portfolio in Liverpool. LHP SPARK is managed via an Operations Executive Group (OEG) that meets monthly, reporting to the LHP Director of Research Infrastructure and Education with performance oversight by the LHP Board and its sub committees. NHS Trusts maintain internal committees and groups as required to develop and facilitate research at the organisational level.
The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has placed considerable strain on NHS systems. To strategically to deliver effective research under these conditions, LHP and the CRN NWC are working collaboratively to strategically prioritise and operationally enable COVID-19 clinical research. As a system we need to act rapidly and at scale to streamline processes across the whole pipeline (identifying/ developing studies, setting up, activation, recruitment and delivery)
To achieve this a temporary command and collaboration structure has been established to deliver a rapid research response for the people of Liverpool and to contribute to the worldwide effort in defeating the disease; the STrategic One Liverpool Partnership for COVID (STOP COVID)
Workforce and infrastructure:
Intelligence and command flow
The response structure will align with and augment existing national and regional COVID command structures and Trust level controls. Nationally prioritised Urgent Public Health (UPH) studies are classified by the Chief Medical Officer before being regionally prioritised by the CRN NWC. The CRN team meet weekly to assess UPH and non-UPH studies and allocate CRN workforce. The CRN collects data weekly from Trusts on workforce (CRN and non-CRN). Decisions on CRN staffing and recommendations around study operations from this CRN NWC group will feed the STOP COVID pipeline.
Initially a weekly series of activity and meetings has been set with involvement from strategic and operational leaders from across LHP and the CRN NWC. The STOP COVID research response structure will restructure and expand this activity for a 4-month initial period (April – August) to gather intel, map capacity and capability and to strategically allocate studies across LHP.
An adaptive command structure will be adopted with membership updated as required:
Gold: Executive Leadership Group
Aim: To approve recommendations from COVID Rapid Response Group (Silver) around COVID research within the LHP system
Key actions: To receive recommendations from COVID Rapid Response Group (silver) and address escalated issues. Reporting to and accountable to the LHP Board.
Meeting frequency: Once weekly (Friday)
Silver: COVID Rapid Response Group
Aim: To strategically prioritise COVID research for Liverpool
Key actions: Review CRN NWC recommendation and staffing allocation, balance local and national study requests/ grant developments against population need, review scientific and strategic needs, decide and approve research studies to take forward/ stop. Assess system workforce allocation and skill mix (CRN and non-CRN), ensure clear and transparent communications and act as a hub on system intel around activity, need, capacity and capability. Maintain oversight of system wide capacity to deliver existing commitments, escalating issues to Gold as appropriate.
Feed in: Recommendations from CRN NWC, reports from Bronze and working groups.
Meeting frequency: 3 x weekly Monday (workforce focus), Wednesday (scientific strategy focus), Friday (studies and performance focus)
Bronze: Operational Leaders Executive Group (OLEG)
Aim: To tactically monitor the LHP research ecosystem and coordinate study set up and delivery
Key actions: To deliver Liverpool rapid research response pipeline studies. Operational management of day to day workforce management. Review and discuss new studies, review set up of new studies, manage delivery of studies, raise issues, submit weekly workforce figures, work with Trust level infrastructure, maintain and assure information flow to LHP and CRN. Identify and action tactical issues (current and future). To coordinate effective communication and sharing of sharing of best practice
Meeting frequency: 2x weekly Monday (studies and performance focus) and Thursday (workforce capacity focus)
Feed in: Information from CRN NWC (R&D managers group), SPARK & OEG members