Research Design Service South East

RDS SE and Covid19

RDS SE and Covid19

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Our work during COVID-19

Despite COVID-19, RDS SE will continue to support those developing health and social care research applications. We will, however, be minimising the need for researchers and our staff to attend face-to-face meetings through greater use of email, telephone and videoconferencing. We will, where possible, hold events such as workshops online instead of face to face and will advertise these on our website, in our e-bulletin and on Twitter.

Prioritising COVID-19 research

We will prioritise COVID-19 studies that need support. Please submit your support request via our request support form and we will respond to you as quickly as possible to support you with this important research. Please contact us to find out about available funding streams in this new area of research.

NIHR has established a single, national prioritisation process for COVID-19 research to prevent duplication of effort and ensure that the resources and capacity of the health and care system are not exceeded (

Nationally prioritised studies are given urgent public health research status by Chris Whitty and his deputy CMOs and uploaded to the NIHR website. Three of the studies – RECOVERY, PRINCIPLE and REMAP-CAP – are recognised as being of critical importance ( 

A Q&A for the prioritisation process for Urgent Public Health Research is available on the NIHR website.

Pausing non-COVID research

NIHR has encouraged clinical and academic health and care professionals working on topics other than COVID-19 to prioritise frontline care when requested to do so by their employing organisations. Many research studies funded or supported by NIHR are unfortunately having to be paused but, where possible, studies are being continued where discontinuation would have a significant detrimental effect on the ongoing care of participants. The Clinical Research Network is pausing the set up of any new or ongoing studies that are not nationally prioritised COVID-19 studies.

In recognition of the importance of maintaining a research pipeline, all NIHR funding and training schemes and calls will continue to be open for applications and there will be new calls in the coming months. Please continue to contact us for support with these.

For more information on this please visit the NIHR website.

Public Involvement during COVID-19

NIHR has reaffirmed its support for PPIE during the pandemic. For further information please see:

Read COVID-19 statement here

Read COVID-19 commitment here

The NIHR has published information on COVID-19 research for patients and the public on the Be Part of Research website. The NIHR is also supporting a new website by UKRI called Coronavirus: the science explained, which lays out the evidence and the facts about the virus, the disease, the epidemic and its control.

In view of the current  situation we have adapted how we can help to support PPI in research. Public involvement continues to be very important in developing funding applications and will still be expected by research funding bodies.

At RDS SE, all Covid-19 projects will be fast-tracked for PIF applications within 1 week.

In addition, we would like to highlight these points:

  • As always with PPIE, there is no one-size-fits-all so there may be a range of options.
  • Public involvement should continue to be a key element of the development of research where possible.
  • Involvement should not involve direct social contact or the need to travel
  • Plan appropriately  – involve public contributors in planning.
  • Use the UK Standards as a framework to ensure quality public involvement practices
  • Ensure public contributors continue to be rewarded and recognised (existing payment processes may need to be adapted).
  • Keep public contributors regularly informed and updated of the progress of involvement and applications.
  • Keep public contributors updated on research progress; staying connected is good to support social contact.
  • Signpost people to appropriate, authoritative, up-to-date advice on coronavirus as needed.
  • Give  the necessary support to involve public contributors remotely:
    • Ensure they can access relevant software or applications;
    • Include clear instructions of how to join remote meetings, as well as support where needed.
  • Make sure to advise attendees about online safety and to be aware of, and happy with, what may be visible in the background of their web camera.

For more detailed tips on carrying out PPI activities during COVID-19 visit the RDS South Central Website 

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