A New report from The Academy of Medical Sciences suggests that patient care is in jeopardy because NHS staff don’t have time for research.
The Academy – who aim to advance biomedical and health research and its translation into benefits for society – call for leaders in universities, the NHS and government to make urgent changes to protect and enhance research in the NHS.
Professor Sir Robert Lechler, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said: "Protecting and strengthening research is a win-win situation for patients, the NHS, Universities and our economy. Research is the tonic the NHS needs right now.
"There is increasing evidence that shows that patients treated in research active hospitals get better quality of care, even if they are not taking part in a research project.”
The report calls for immediate action by giving NHS staff protected time to do research. This should begin by running an estimated £25 million pilot scheme to allow 1 in 5 consultants to have one day a week of their time protected for research in ten hospitals across the UK. It is expected that the scheme would become cost neutral or even save money in the longer term by improving recruitment and retention of NHS staff, reducing spending on agency staff, and increasing research funding from life sciences companies.
Professor Lechler said: “You could ask whether, at a time of too few doctors and nurses and overstretched budgets, we can afford to give time and money to research. Whatever improvements are made to our health service, research is a critical priority. It is important to note that every pound spent on biomedical research returns about 25p every year, forever.
“So we can’t afford not to do this both financially and more importantly for the health of us all.”