ACAT Pilot
Amber O’Malley, CRN Funding and Contracts Manager
CRN AcoRD Business Lead
Delivering clinical research to
make patients, and the NHS, better
Session overview
• Overview of ACAT Pilot Project – Amber O’Malley
• Activity Capture and Attribution Template (ACAT) – Baljit
• Walkthrough of the ACAT – Karen Hampshire
• Q&A
AcoRD Implementation
AcoRD guidance
• Published May 2012
• Applies to new grant applications submitted after 1 October 2012
Primary reasons for change:
• Improving the consistency of cost attribution; and
• Encouraging more consistent funding of the costs of research
ACAT Pilot
• NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) is leading a pilot to support
implementation of AcoRD guidance working in partnership with DH,
NIHR, AMRC and range of charities
Tools and services to be piloted
New tool and services designed to help researchers and funders identify and
attribute the activities appropriately in research studies in line with AcoRD guidance
Activity Capture and Attribution Template (ACAT)
• Designed to support researchers to apply the AcoRD guidance to identify and
attribute correctly the activities being undertaken as part of a research study
• Produce estimated costs of study activities, to give an indication of the
resources required to deliver the study.
Pre application support service
• AcoRD Specialists / NIHR provide support on attribution and independent
completion of ACAT
• List of AcoRD Specialists available on NIHR CRN website
• Other organisations e.g. CTUs, RDSs also provide range of support services
ACAT Review service
• NIHR CRN / CCF / NETS CC check attribution and resource
Aims of the Pilot
The purpose of the pilot is to:
• Obtain feedback on the usability of the ACAT
• Identify any types of research study where the ACAT is inappropriate
• Assess the level of training and support that researchers and
funders will need to use the ACAT
• Assess whether the NIHR CRN AcoRD specialist role meets the
needs of researchers
• Assess the resource implications for NIHR CRN of rolling out the
ACAT and the advice and review process for DH, funders, NIHR
CRNs and researchers
• Assess whether the review process is likely to deliver the anticipated
reduction in delays to study commencement
ACAT Pilot Project
• Pilot exercise started in December 2013 and due to conclude
in the autumn of 2014
• Range of funders participating from AMRC charities and NIHR
– Cancer Research UK
– Arthritis Research UK
– Prostate Cancer UK
– Diabetes UK
• Evaluation exercise commenced and recommendations to DH
late 2014
UK Wide Working
Studies led in Wales
Welsh researchers are included in the ACAT pilot and required to use the
ACAT as part of their applications submitted to participating funders
Pre application support and the formal review process for Welsh led studies
will be undertaken centrally by the NISCHR AHSC Contract and Costing
Studies led in Scotland
Researchers based in Scotland are exempt from the ACAT pilot
NHS Research Scotland is developing its own costing system which will
provide similar information to the ACAT
Feedback and Evaluation
• All funders, researchers and AcoRD Specialists participating in the
pilot will be asked to provide feedback on their experience of using
the associated CRN processes i.e. the ACAT, pre application
support and the ACAT Review.
• Various mechanisms in place to support evaluation approach
• May not be directly involved in the pilot but can also feedback your
comments via CRN AcoRD email
[email protected]
Benefits of the ACAT, pre application
support service and ACAT Review
Completion of the ACAT, the introduction of a new advice and review
process will:
• Help funders to identify and address any issues regarding attribution
and funding at an earlier stage in the funding process
• reduce delays to study commencement and
• limit the need for funders to make additional resources
available part way through a study
• Improve the consistency of cost attribution
• Support early engagement between researchers and NIHR CRN
• enables NIHR CRN to plan resources to support effective
• Help funders review value for money of the study by setting out the
study’s full resource requirements
Learning Resources
All learning resources are accessible via the NIHR
CRN website:
• E-learning attribution tool
• DH slide set
• CRN slide set
• ACAT Briefing sessions
• ACAT tutorial (~45 minutes): video format
• Visit:
• Contact [email protected] for queries
Baljit Galsinh
CRN Management Accountant
Delivering clinical research to
make patients, and the NHS, better
The Brief
• Create a tool that supports the consistent
application of AcoRD principles, and estimates
the costs of the study
• Use Industry Costing Template as a starting
Purpose of the ACAT
• To support researchers to apply the AcoRD
guidance and correctly attribute the activities
being undertaken as part of a research study
• To produce estimated costs of these activities, to
give an indication of the resources required to
deliver the study
Purpose of the ACAT
• The ACAT is primarily a cost attribution tool
• The ACAT is not a comprehensive costing template,
and therefore will not dictate the amount of funding
paid by the grant funder(s), or the value of support
provided by the NIHR Clinical Research Network
• Funding applications should still be costed using
existing local costing tools
• ACAT costings based on activities, not individuals
Scope of the ACAT
• Research Costs (Part A & B)
• NHS Support Costs – but not central
management and sponsorship costs
• NHS Treatment Costs (the ACAT does not
calculate excess treatment costs – these must
be calculated separately and entered directly)
Source of costs in the ACAT
• Costs (and time estimates) from CRN industry
costing template (excluding overheads and
capacity building element)
• The costs within the ACAT are being continually
reviewed, in 2014 the investigational costs will
be reviewed.
• Research (Part A) costs hidden to avoid
impression that ACAT dictates funding amount
ACAT development
• Designed to be as automated as possible
• Involved experts from across the NHS
• Not expected to capture 100% of studies (may
have to use template creatively)
• Appropriate balance must be struck between
complexity and accessibility
ACAT Pilot
Activity Capture and Attribution
Template (ACAT)
Pre-Application Support and Advice
Karen Hampshire, Lead RM&G Manager (AcoRD Specialist)
CRN: West Midlands
Delivering clinical research to
make patients, and the NHS, better
What is the ACAT for
1. A tool that supports the consistent application of
AcoRD principles and estimates the costs of the
What’s the purpose of the AcoRD
1. To support investigators to apply the AcoRD
guidance and correctly attribute the activities
being undertaken as part of a research study
for AMRC funder (not NIHR funding streams)
2. To produce estimated costs of these activities,
to give an indication of the resources required
to deliver the study at SITE level.
What needs to be remembered?
1. ACAT costings based on activities (the primary
purpose of the activity), not individuals
Don’t assume there is a general understanding of the AcoRD Guidance
– understanding the difference between attributions
– understanding of Research Part A & Part B costs
Received requests for support for NIHR funding streams as well AMRC
– Locally we support all funding streams if possible
Requested investigators to give us 2 weeks notice before funding submission
– Calls for support come late (30mins before the deadline)
Contacted mainly by a mixture of CTU’s, Project managers within R&D
– No direct contact from CI’s yet
Key Questions:
– ‘What is an ACAT form?’
– ‘Do I need to complete one of these?’
– ‘Why do I need to complete one of these?’
1. Sent out communications to our local research
community - for many it was the first time they
have heard about ACAT and even AcoRD!
ACAT Pilot on the NIHR CRN website
AcoRD Guidance of DH website
2. The ACAT should have been completed by the
investigator so should be intuitive
This is not always the case as it would have been the first time
they would have seen this form
Put off by the size of the form which they would have need to
complete over and above the funding application
Questions from Investigators
1. Can you do my study costings please?
1. Unfortunately not. These need to be done in association
with your R&D Departments and Finance Departments.
Pre-Application support would not have access to this
type of information. Their remit is to support the
completion of the template, help identify all the activities
and assist in attributing correctly
2. What is the difference between ‘Per Participant costs’
and ‘Study Costs’
1. ‘Per participants costs’ are study activities which are
clearly linked to participants (Questionnaires,
investigations, medical history informed consent etc.)
2. ‘Study Costs’ are activities which are generally not linked
to participants and occur less frequently during the study
Questions from Investigators
• The finance calculations in the ACAT are
different. Why?
– The cost of the activities are taken from the Industry costing
template with overheads, capacity building element and MFF
stripped out. The costs are national averages and not local
• Does the completion of the ACAT Template
have an effect on my application?
– No. This is a pilot and is being run in parallel with the application
process. The application process will review the finance
information given as part of the application form
Requests for Pre Application Support
1. Should be requested as early as possible
1. Already have some deferred RfPB Sept closing
2. Request can come from anywhere
3. Think about completing a ‘Schedule of Events’
4. Initially email or telephone but should arrange for a face
to face meeting with your AcoRD Specialist
My experience of Pre Application
Support with a research team
1. Initial discussions take 20-30 min to understand the patient
pathway for the study
2. Pre Application Support review of the ACAT takes around 60-90
mins depending on the complexity of the study or how well the
protocol has been developed.
3. Individual 1:1 support via emails and telephone 10-30 min each
after initial meeting.
4. Help is out there!
1. If we are not sure then the AcoRD Specialist have recourse to
contact other AcoRD experts.
What have we done?
AcoRD Specialists (Central)
Karen Hampshire
Kirsty Hunter
ACATs supported
5 x RfPB
1 x CRUK
1 x Care home study (trial only)
ACATs submitted
ACATs deferred
2 x RfPB
1 x CRUK
3 x RfPB
Number of training sessions
Number trained
Organisations trained
Network staff, RDS, CTUs, R&D Departments, Universities
ACAT information dissemination
at events
BBC CLRN Showcase Event, 17.03.14
UHBNHSFT Research Showcase Event, 20.05.14
Communication Updates – ‘Fridays Email’
Use the pre-application support service!!
Contact an AcoRD Specialist before you have looked at the ACAT if
you are new to it
3. Use the ‘HELP’ tab and Guidance section in the ACAT for more detail
on attribution
4. Highlight/ list all activities from the grant application
5. Use the automated section as much as possible
6. Use the drop down menus to easily identify all the relevant activities
7. Don’t spend too much time searching for an activity
8. Be aware of potential quirks in the tool (pilot)
9. Don’t be conscious of keeping costs down!
10. Record your feedback to inform the pilot ~ the quirks
1. Excellent tool for addressing any confusion over
2. Supports the AcoRD guidance and may be used to
answer questions not addressed in the AcoRD
3. Investigators are able to identify potential costs
4. Better understanding of cost attribution all round
5. More confidence in panel members funding study
6. Open and transparent
AcoRD Specialist for
CRN: West Midlands
Central Team
Kirsty Hunter
Karen Hampshire
• Telephone: 0121 627 2843
• Email: [email protected]
North Team
Mary Anne Darby
Pam Devall
• Telephone: 0845 602 6772
• Email: [email protected]
South Team
Katie Williams
Rachel Davis
• Telephone: 01564 711 711
• Email: [email protected]

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