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Costs associated with NHS and HSC research

Understand the costs associated with NHS and HSC research and how we can help with attribution of these costs.

Understanding the costs of NHS and HSC research

In 2012, guidance known as 'Attributing revenue costs of health and social care Research & Development (AcoRD)’ was released which provided greater clarity on attributing the costs of health and social care research studies.

Research studies comprise a number of component activities, which, for the purpose of agreeing funding arrangements, are attributed to one of three broad cost categories:

  1. Research Costs - the costs of the research itself that end when the research study ends. They relate to activities that are being undertaken to answer the research questions.
  2. Support Costs - the additional patient care costs associated with the research, which would end once the research study in question had stopped, even if the patient care involved continued to be provided.
  3. Treatment Costs - the patient care costs, which would continue to be incurred if the patient care service in question continued to be provided after the research study had stopped.

These costs ares met from a number of sources:

  • Research costs - covered by the research funder (some exceptions for certain charity funders)
  • Support costs - for studies that meet the eligibility criteria for NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) Support, resources for meeting Support Costs are provided primarily through the Local Clinical Research Networks (LCRNs) of the NIHR Clinical Research Network.
  • Treatment costs - are funded through normal commissioning arrangements. However, the National Institute of Health Research Clinical Research Network (NIHR CRN) and its local networks manage the Excess Treatment Cost budget on behalf of ICBs.

Attributing the costs of NHS and HSC research

All new funding applications for research that involves the NHS and/or HSC are normally required to complete a Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Tool (SoECAT).

Once the SoECAT has been completed, it must be validated by the lead CRN AcoRD specialists, prior to being submitted to the funder. The CRN West of England is our local CRN. If the CRN West of England is the lead CRN for your study, you must submit your SoECAT at least ten working days before the funding deadline for review and validation by the AcoRD specialist. The validated SoECAT is then submitted as part of the funding application.

We can help with completing a SoECAT for research involving local primary and community health and social care organisations. Contact Samantha Barrett, Research Governance Facilitator.

Key points of the SoECAT

  • The SoECAT functions as a cost attribution template but is not intended primarily as a study costing tool.
  • If completed at the research funding application stage and where the research is to take place in or through the NHS and/or HSC, it should also form part of the Health Research Authority (HRA) approval supporting document set (in place of the Schedule of Events) submitted in IRAS;
  • If submitted in IRAS, it should form part of the UK Local Information Pack, that the sponsor or their authorised delegate shares with participating NHS/HSC organisations to support the arranging of local capacity and capability (England, Northern Ireland and/or Wales) or the issuing of NHS Management Permission (Scotland);
  • It provides the Excess Treatment Cost (ETC) per participant value, the Clinical Research Network will transfer this per participant value into the Central Portfolio Management System (CPMS)


If you have any questions, please contact us.

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