CCRA AGM Roundup 2017

Housed within the dramatic and suitably clinical-feeling Miller Insurance offices near Aldgate in London, a gathering of great clinical minds occurred for the CCRA AGM. Professor Atholl Johnston, President, opened up the day with introductions before we launched into 5 presentations back-to-back.

Firstly we heard from Andy Catton, a Partner at Miller Insurance, on specialist insurance in Clinical trials. He delivered some great information and was asked a raft of questions, and it was a fitting end to his tenure with CCRA as he retires at the end of 2017.

Next up was Mark Upton, Sales Manager at HMCA Ltd, an insurance company specialising in hospital and medical care company plans. He highlighted the need for good private healthcare and income protection, with almost 6 days average sickness per employee in the UK, and 20% of the workforce off sick for 4 weeks or more. At £16billion cost to the British economy each year he argued the case for robust insurances for employees that reduce company exposure and better support your staff to encourage retention. It was also interesting to hear that 43% of NHS Trust’s Finance Directors predicted an overspend on the 2017/2018 budget, and that the wait for acute care has been steadily increasing since 2008.

Our next speaker, Ross Flew, Senior Trader at URICA, gave a really inspiring delivery on the business and its ‘URICA’ moment of supply chain funding. Adding value to small business and large through their unique financial support via their online platform, effectively eradicating the need for invoice financing and debt chasing. It all sounded too good to be true, but the detail behind the idea and some great case studies illustrated how valuable this could be for businesses to really get control of their cash flow.

Next up was Sarah Goddard from Clinical Professionals, discussing and entirely different investment and insurance proposition – that of our future talent. The presentation centred on the Apprentice Levy that came into force earlier this year; who would be affected, the processes involved, and how to best utilise the system, as well as advancements in the Life Science and specifically the clinical research sectors. She then went on to address the (lack of) hiring and training needs around our entry level talent partly being solved via the Clinical Professionals’ Graduate Academy and other Academy programmes, but also the lack of training on the changing clinical research landscape and Clinical Professionals new training course ‘Clinical Trials Redesigned’, which deep dives into the current challenges, changes in regulations, patient involvement in trials, Transcelerate initiatives and the future.

Finally we heard from Dawn McCarthy-Simpson of PACT, the trade association representing TV, film and Animation production companies. How on earth is that relevant to Clinical Trials and CCRA I hear you ask? It did cross our minds as well, but it quickly became apparent that Dawn was presenting on novel ideas around app technology and how they can help rapidly link customers and organisations together. The white labelled apps could potentially be transferred across to the clinical sector in some guise and would possibly help to drive achieving deadlines by connecting the right organisations or individuals at the right time within a trial process. As pharma moves finally into the digital age and ‘digital health’ is so critical, use of new app technology surely is only a matter of time….

As always we massively overran and lunch started very late. After a hurried few sandwiches and some quick conversations, everyone was delicately herded back in by Sue for the afternoon session.

We heard from Alistair Gifford-Moore of The London Clinic, who has represented the CCRA members at a number of meeting in 2016 and 2017. He gave us feedback on meetings with HRA where discussions had focussed on collaboration, Phase 1 advisory groups and a forum on transparency in clinical trials, and LSO which had been a Brexit deep dive – everyone’s favourite topic! The key concerns from this included IMP supply chains, EUDRACT ongoing use, CT regulatory implementation, GCP/GMP inspections and more.

Simon Lee then gave very detailed feedback on his work on behalf of CCRA members as the Secretary for EUCROF. The most recent meeting there again had been a lively debate around Brexit and it’s impacts, and again he highlighted various aspects from QPs and QPPVs and where it would leave them, the regulatory framework post-Brexit, how we would continue to attract customers to run clinical trials if the UK was designated a 3rd country status, how we would remain competitive to foreign investment, impact on legal representatives and insurance arrangements, MHRA & EMA interaction and influence over international standards – a whole host of contentious issues! Simon stressed the importance for CCRA to develop a Brexit Working Group as well to really get feedback from industry, and to share information gathered from government and other membership groups. The more informed, more quickly, we are the better we can be prepared.

After a brief break we were lucky enough to hear from John Arnold, Public Affairs Advisor. He held a captivated room as he explained the current parliamentary situation of the main UK parties, potential changes within government and leadership, and also how this could affect our Life Science sector. Brexit, again, was a large topic of conversation, but it was great to hear about it from someone so knowledgeable. A great debate!

Sarah Goddard of Clinical Professionals stressed “Thanks must be given to the CCRA Executive Committee for organising a great day. Sue worked tirelessly to get as many members present as possible, and whilst it is difficult with busy days, it would be great to see more members represented at the next meeting. There is such value gained from sharing of ideas and also putting together strategy and objectives for how we will tackle forthcoming issues, including Brexit. The more great minds involved in this the better quite frankly! CCRA provide a platform for lively and beneficial debate, but more than that give the UK clinical research sector a voice, they lobby government and allow us to drive and change our own sector. Their work is so important and we are glad to be part of their membership.”

Nikki Doyle, Clinical Professionals Academy Manager, who was also in attendance added “This was my first time attending a CCRA meeting and I was really impressed by all of the guest presenters. The information around the areas of staff benefits and finance were really enlightening and deserved to have a much larger audience. I particularly enjoyed the afternoon session and learning more about the current political and European landscape, which I will be able to utilise during our Graduate Academy when speaking to our graduates about their futures. I left the meeting really keen to get involved in the ongoing initiatives where I could, but particularly around Education & Training and to help the CCRA become a force to be reckoned with.”