NHS England are considering expanding the IMPACT PrEP trial which started in September, 2017.
THE NHS board had received a proposal from the Trial Management Group to consider increasing the total number of places available for the trial from 10,000 to 13,000.
Researchers consider that based on the data regarding the number and profile of those enrolled in the trial in the first six months, a greater number of participants is required to more accurately estimate the likely long-term needs of a routinely commissioned PrEP programme. An increase in trial size will require resource commitments from commissioners.
Local authority and NHS England commissioners were very supportive of the principle of an increase in the trial size. However, it was agreed that further work was required to finalise an agreement to increase the size.
Given that across the country, places are still available to enroll new trial participants, the Board agreed to keep the situation under close review and ensure the final decision was taken as soon as possible after the transfer of sponsorship was complete from St. Stephen’s AIDS Trust (SSAT) who are closing down to Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust.
The Board agreed the final decision to increase the number of places could be taken by ‘Chairs action’ outside of a Board meeting if required.
Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of NAT (National AIDS Trust) said: “This proposed trial expansion, from 10,000 to 13,000 participants, is essential and we urge NHS England to confirm the decision urgently. This expansion was first proposed by NAT as necessary to estimate accurately the likely long-term needs of a routinely commissioned PrEP programme and it’s great news that this is now on the table.
“But even an expanded trial will not deliver PrEP to all who need and want it over the trial’s three-year duration. And we cannot accept a situation where people who are eligible for PrEP and who are desperate to take responsibility for preventing HIV are being turned away from clinics that are full.
“We now need to see real, transparent progress towards routine commissioning of a PrEP national programme. We must ensure that no one who needs to access PrEP is refused.”
Debbie Laycock, Head of Policy, Terrence Higgins Trust added: “We welcome NHS England’s proposal to increase the PrEP Impact Trial by an additional 3,000 places, but the decision on this must be made urgently, with places being made available as soon as possible.
“While additional places would certainly be an improvement, it would be just a short fix, and no doubt would still lead to people who are eligible for PrEP being turned away from clinics participating in the trial. This is unacceptable.
“We absolutely must now begin to progress from NHS England and local authorities toward routine commissioning of PrEP on the NHS, to ensure that anyone who could benefit from PrEP is able to access it.”