HC Deb 17 September 2004 vol 424 c1964W
Mr. Wood

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the levels of funding available for(a) researching, (b) treating and (c) raising awareness of dystonia in 2004–05. [189528]

Dr. Ladyman

The main agency through which the Government support medical and clinical research is the Medical Research Council (MRC). The MRC is an independent body funded by the Department of Trade and Industry via the Office of Science and Technology.

The MRC does not normally allocate funds to particular topics. Research proposals in all areas compete for the funding available. When appropriate, high quality research in particularly areas of strategic importance may be given priority in competition for funds, but research excellence and importance to health continues to be the primary considerations in funding decisions.

The MRC spent £1.4 million on research related to dystonia in 2001–02, the latest year for which figures are available.

Over 75 per cent. of the Department's total expenditure on health research is devolved to and managed by national health service organisations. Details of individual projects, including a number concerned with dystonia, can be found on the national research register at www.dh.gov.uk/research.

Through section 64 grants to the National Dystonia Society, the Department has funded a range of projects to help increase awareness and understanding of dystonia. In 2004–05, the society will receive £45,000 to support its independent living project.

In terms of raising awareness among health professionals, the content and standard of postgraduate medical training for specialist medicine is the responsibility of the United Kingdom competent authority, the Specialist Training Authority (STA). The STA takes advice from the appropriate Royal College, who appreciate the requirements presented by different conditions and develop their training curricula as appropriate. Measures to increase doctors' knowledge of dystonia and movement disorders are therefore more appropriate for these bodies and the medical profession.