Dr Catriona Manville
Director of Research Policy, Association of Medical Research Charities
The recent Health and Care Act will help drive a more research active NHS to deliver better healthcare for our communities.
It is well established that clinical research activity in the NHS delivers clear benefits to all involved. This includes improved outcomes, lower mortality rates and increased confidence for patients in care being delivered.
The benefits don’t stop there; studies report greater job satisfaction for health workers who engage with research, as well as economic benefits and cost savings to the healthcare system and beyond.
Using integrated care systems to embed research
Following the introduction of integrated care systems in 2018, last summer, the Health and Care Bill started its passage through Parliament. The legislation initially included a duty to promote research, repeating the wording used in the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
The community felt that this had not sufficiently changed activity and mindset on clinical research in the NHS. To address this, Parliamentarians supported by organisations across the life sciences sector, including AMRC, called for a stronger mandate, to increase the responsibility of organisations to conduct and promote research in the NHS.
From amendments proposed in the Lords, the mandate strengthened the duty to facilitate as well as promote research, and integrated care boards and NHS England have the responsibility to report on research through joint forward plans and annual reports.
We need to shift the perception that research is an add-on to it being a core purpose of healthcare settings.
Policies putting research at the heart of care
Of course, there is still work to do to explore how this will be delivered in practice. However, the combination of the Health and Care Act 2022, alongside the Government’s ‘The Future of UK Clinical Research Delivery vision’ published last year and learnings from COVID-19 provides the opportunity to put research at the centre of care delivery.
We need to shift the perception that research is an add-on to it being a core purpose of healthcare settings and stress that research is fundamental to organisations delivering the best for our communities.