“It is well recognised that there is significant pressure to speed the drug development process in order to develop treatments that enable people to live healthier lives. We are proud to be working with the team at UCLPartners to further enhance our ability to recruit patients and investigators who are critical to an efficient and effective drug development process. We have gone from strength to strength since this relationship began and we are proud of what we have achieved together, for the benefit of London as a whole.”

Lindy Jones, Chair of the European, Middle East and Africa Board for Quintiles

What was the problem?

Historically, the UK – and specifically London – has had a poor reputation with the pharmaceutical industry because of its slow approvals processes for clinical trials. As pharmaceutical companies were able to engage more participants in other countries, they did not focus on trying to hold trials in London, and as a result, patients in the London region had poor access to innovative potential new treatments.


What we did and why

Through UCLPartners and the North Thames Clinical Research Network, hospital trusts in north central and east London harmonised their approvals process for clinical trials. The result was a reduction in time to approve clinical trials from 104 to 17 days. The success of this work led to UCLPartners partnering with the world’s biggest clinical research organisation, Quintiles, to become a Quintiles Prime Site in May 2013.

Prime sites receive first notification of all Quintiles trials taking place in Europe, providing opportunities to our researchers and patients to lead/ participate in national trials. Quintiles also provides considerable infrastructure contributions that support study initiation and recruitment, and a commercial management input that helps the trust to plan for growth and the company to attract more trials to the UK.

In 2015, UCLPartners worked with local trusts and Quintiles to expand the Prime Site beyond north central and east London, to include Essex. This means that an additional one million people will have access to clinical trials in a way that they did not before.

UCLP 6million

This partnership between UCLPartners, Quintiles and the North Thames Clinical Research Network has increased access to clinical trials and innovative treatments for over 4.2 million people in north central east London and Essex. UCLPartners is the highest performing Quintiles Prime Site in the world, with 619 patients recruited to trials in 2015/16. As well as clinical benefits for patients, trusts receive an average £1m income, plus savings of £6m per 100 patients participating.

The Prime Site is increasing patient access to innovative treatment and supporting research capabilities in our hospitals.

Which national priorities does this work address?

  • The national adoption of innovation agenda
  • The National Institute of Health Research’s objectives of increasing access to clinical trials


  • One million more people have access to clinical trials since the Prime Site was expanded to Essex in 2015.
  • UCLPartners is the highest-performing Prime Site in the world (in all categories measured, including recruitment numbers; recruiting the right patient, quality, and low rates of non-enrolees).
  • Between April 2015 and February 2016, 619 patients in the UCLPartners region have taken part in Quintiles trials, more than doubling the target set by the contract research organisation (CRO).
  • For every 100 patients recruited, the trust receives an average of £1 million.
  • For every 100 patients recruited, the trust also saves approximately £6 million in costs of treatment if those patients were not on trials and were accessing normal care.
  • The model has been so successful that we have been approached by other industry companies to replicate the model for them in our region.

“Every patient should have access to the latest drugs and treatments no matter where they are first diagnosed or where they receive treatment.  We are working relentlessly to support our partners in making these opportunities available to patients in the region, and we’re delighted to see the success of this partnership with Quintiles.”

Professor Joanne Hackett, Director of Commercial Development at UCLPartners

Tips for implementation

  • Engagement with academics, clinicians and patients right from the beginning.
  • To understand the ‘value added for all’ – everyone’s a winner when we work together like this.

Next steps and spread

UCLPartners plans to continue to expand the site to allow as many patients as possible to participate in clinical trials. We are specifically aligning new studies with our six academic medical centres, by engaging the clinicians and scientists with expertise in those areas. This will include a focus on neuroscience and paediatrics.

Find out more

Visit the UCLPartners website.

Contact for help and advice

Communications contact:
Amanda White, Head of Communications, UCLPartners
020 3108 2332

Project contact
Professor Joanne Hackett, Director of Commercial Development, UCLPartners
020 3108 2318

Programme duration: March 2015 – February 2016