Published on 6 May 2020

Medical research charities organisation outlines plans to support charities and their communities following the impact on the ways that charities work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), of which DRWF is a member, has outlined how they plan to support charities during the COVID-19 health crisis.

A statement from AMRC said: “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt across the breadth of our health system and beyond. We know that this is a deeply challenging time for our members, patients and the public.  

“It’s a fast-changing situation and  our intention is to keep AMRC members up to date on what’s happening across the health and medical research sector, including how we’re working to provide support and signposts to key guidance as it’s issued.”  

Throughout this period of lockdown and social distancing measures AMRC has pledged to support members with an online forum to share information and experiences; signpost and collate our members’ guidance on the impact to the research they fund; and act as a channel of communication to share sector views with government and other key bodies.  

A survey of AMRC member charities found that more than half had stopped, paused or delayed the majority (75-100%) of their clinical studies due to COVID-19. However, charity-funded trials are at risk of not being able to restart without additional funding or support.

Due to the uncertainty of the ongoing situation, almost half (40%) of AMRC members were concerned that more than half of their clinical studies will be unable to restart.  Furthermore, more than two thirds of charities are deferring upcoming grant rounds and withdrawing future funding.   

The survey findings also reported that three-quarters of AMRC’s members anticipated a reduction of 25% or more in fundraising income, with more than a third of charities expecting a reduction of 40% or more. 

AMRC concluded that significant losses in fundraising income are expected to have a long-term impact on charity research and on the life sciences sector where charities play essential roles in the ecosystem.

Commenting on the challenges to research during the COVID-19 pandemic Aisling Burnand MBE, Chief Executive of AMRC, said: “With those working on the front-line of health care facing unprecedented challenges, it is the right decision to focus efforts and resources on COVID-19. We know that this decision has not been taken lightly and has been made with an appreciation of the significant impact it will inevitably have in all areas of research.

“We sympathise with all those having to make such difficult choices. Clinical trials are not only vital to the development of new treatments and an improved understanding of diseases, for many patients, they are a crucial lifeline.

“The decision to suspend clinical trials, if doing so does not endanger the patient, will have a significant impact on participating patients and their families. We ask that decisions on each trial are made with that impact on patients in mind. These decisions need to be proportionate and communicated transparently and sensitively.

“The medical research charity sector will continue to do its utmost to support the front-line healthcare workforce, patients and their families through this difficult period.”

Call to action - How you can support DRWF during this time

Sarah Tutton, Chief Executive of DRWF, said: “Research is the only way to find new treatments and a cure for diabetes. We have multi-year grant awards in place right now which we must do our utmost to honour and we must be able to react to ongoing applications that we receive for research work that could truly make a difference to the lives of people with diabetes. 

“We exist on voluntary donations and fundraised income and like most charities, Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our ability to raise the funds we need. We expect the months ahead will be just as challenging, and sadly this may have an impact on our ability to fund the volume and value of research work that could fuel the next big breakthrough.

“Charities need us, as we need them, more than ever before. Our supporters enable us to keep our research funding on track meaning that the diabetes research community has funds available to find the cure that could transform the lives of millions. We can’t thank our supporters enough for their continued support during these challenging times.”

Read Lockdown guidance for staying home and safe for people living with diabetes during Covid-19 pandemic
Read How people with diabetes could become more ill if diagnosed with Covid-19
DRWF operations during the Covid-19 health crisis

The DRWF team is working remotely. Covid-19 guidance, particularly where it aligns or impacts with diabetes guidance, is shared as quickly as possible through the DRWF website and social media channels with the aim of making it as easy to understand as possible and a reliable source of latest news.

Further reports to follow – visit DRWF news page
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