Identify study costs in the NHS and social care

Identifying the cost of research should be done at the development stage and is critical for a number of reasons. You can download standard templates and find more information in this section.

Accurate costings are needed when applying for research funding grants, as all funders require credible financial information and will only pay out the amounts awarded. They also ensure the NHS and social care organisations involved are fully funded to deliver the research and the study can be completed. Transparency in costings also enables discussion when real-world costs change, which could otherwise stop access to NHS and social care organisation services.

Key differences exist between commercial and non-commercial research when costing a study.

Non-commercial (grant-funded or similar) research

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

  • Research costs - the costs of the R&D itself that end when the research ends. They relate to activities that are being undertaken to answer the research questions.
  • NHS treatment costs - the care costs, which would continue to be incurred if the care service in question continued to be provided after the R&D study had stopped.
  • NHS support costs - the additional care costs associated with the research, which would end once the R&D study in question had stopped, even if the patient care involved continued to be provided.

The cost of public involvement needs to be incorporated into research costs. public involvement costing calculator is available.

When designing a study, the lead researcher needs to attribute costs according to the UK wide policy framework - attributing the costs of health and social care research and development (AcoRD).

This framework exists to help researchers to accurately identify, recover and attribute the costs of health and social care research in a transparent and consistent manner.

AcoRD Wales guidance:

AcoRD Wales guidance 

AcoRD Wales guidance annex A 

AcoRD Wales guidance annex B 

Schedule of event cost attribution tool (SoECAT)

All researchers applying for certain clinical research grants are required to complete a SoECAT as part of the grant application process. This allows funders to receive reassurance that the cost activities within the study have been attributed correctly in line with AcoRD.

For more information, please contact the Health and Care Research Wales support and delivery service

In order to correctly attribute costs for your study, Health and Care Research Wales offers an introduction to AcoRD training course that will tell you more about why AcoRD matters.  

The Welsh Government is committed to supporting research in NHS and social care organisations, and provides support funding for non-commercial studies. Guidance and application forms to support your study can be found on the health boards and trusts in research page.

Commercial research

Here, the categories of cost are not an issue. Instead the funding ensures that all costs that are over and above standard care are provided.

The interactive costing tool (iCT) provides a framework for transparent cost display and calculation, to support swift local site budget negotiations when planning commercial trials in the NHS.

More information about the iCT can be found on the National Institute for Health Research website.

Contact the Health and Care Research Wales support and delivery service for advice on completing the iCT.