HC Deb 30 March 2000 vol 347 cc216-7W
Angela Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how he intends to take forward the reform of research and development in the NHS. [117075]

Yvette Cooper

We are today announcing a programme of modernisation to give strategic direction to the management of Research and Development in the National Health Service.

High quality modern health care depends on high quality research-based evidence. These changes bring the management of R&D in the NHS into line with the principles set out in "The new NHS" (Cm 3807, December 1997). They provide a quality framework within which all R&D funded from NHS resources will respond to the priorities and needs of the NHS.

The Department of Health will take the lead in expressing priorities for the national effort in health services research, on behalf of the NHS. The NHS will work with other funding bodies and the universities to deliver advances in knowledge the NHS needs for evidence-based practice and policy.

Collaboration will replace unproductive competition. There will be no time-consuming NHS-wide bidding for NHS R&D allocations from April 2001. Instead, the Government will use a modernisation fund to encourage research partnerships and networks in areas of high priority for the NHS. We want to ensure that consumers of health services are involved at every stage in the research process. New guidance will reinforce the standards of governance and performance management required of R&D in the NHS.

The NHS is part of the national science base. These reforms ensure the NHS and the Department of Health meet the obligations of their partnership with other research funding bodies. Within this framework, the NHS will target resources on providing a suitable environment for high quality research conducted within strategies that take account of its priorities and needs.

The paper, "Research and Development for a First Class Service: R&D funding in the new NHS", sets out a new statement of policy and principles together with plans for implementation. Copies have been placed in the Library. It is also available on the Department of Health's website.

These reforms build on a review led by Professor Michael Clarke on behalf of the Central R&D Committee for the NHS. We are today making his report available on the Department of Health's website. As well as the management and funding of R&D in the NHS, Professor Clarke's review considered NHS priorities for R&D related to cancer, the elderly, heart disease and stroke, mental health, and primary care and took account of a review of research priorities for accidental injury. We are placing these reports on the Department's website. We intend to make early progress with the R&D priorities for cancer, heart disease and stroke, and mental health.

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