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Health research crisis in the NHS is putting patient care at risk

New report highlights importance of research in the health service

NHS

Research active NHS staff are dwindling due to increasing time pressures, a new report from the Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS) has found.

As a result, future patient care is being put at risk, as evidence shows patients treated in research active hospital receive better care.

“Evidence suggests that including research in medical roles makes it easier to attract and keep the best doctors. Research can also provide a coping mechanism to avoid burnout in NHS staff, so could make a dent in the £480m yearly NHS spend on agency staff,” said AMS president Robert Lechler.

The report emphasises the need for urgent action, in the form of introducing protected time for NHS staff to undertake research.

It proposes a £25m pilot scheme which would allow one in five consultants to have one day each week devoted to research in ten hospitals across the UK.

According to the report, this scheme would become cost neutral and eventually save the NHS money by improving recruitment and retention of NHS staff.

It is also predicted that by introducing protected research time, spending will be reduced on agency staff and also increase research funding from life sciences companies.

The report also proposes that all healthcare organisations should actively promote research, increase research training for all healthcare staff, and increase collaboration with universities by adding to the number of honorary positions they award to NHS staff.

The AMS report also highlights the importance of this research, emphasising the historic research discoveries made in the NHS over the last 70 years including the development of penicillin, the invention of MRI scanners, the development of IVF and DNA sequencing.

The drop in medical clinical academics – NHS consultants employed by universities to lead research – highlights the need for immediate measures to be taken.

The number of research staff has decreased from 7.5% to 4.2% of NHS medical consultants from 2004 to 2017, with just 0.4% of GPs and 0.1% of nursing, midwifery and other health professional undertaking research in 2017.

“The Prime Minister has been absolutely clear that his Government will boost funding on the NHS. Whatever improvements are made to our health service, research is a critical priority,” said Lechler.

“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,” he added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

8th January 2020

From: Healthcare

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