Published: 18 October 2018

The five-year funding settlement and the long-term plan for the NHS together represent a huge opportunity for NHS England to position research and innovation as being fundamental to the sustainability of the NHS and patient outcomes. Over the past three months AMRC has sought the views of our members on what the research and innovation priorities should be for NHS England as the long-term plan is developed.

Commenting on AMRC’s proposals for research and innovation in the NHS to inform NHS England’s long-term plan, Aisling Burnand, Chief Executive, said:

“The value of research and innovation to our NHS cannot be underestimated. In its 70th year, and amidst times of significant financial constraint, research and innovation will empower us to do things differently, be more sustainable, and deliver better quality outcomes and services for patients and carers.

Ensuring that patients are at the heart of research and innovation is at the centre of AMRC’s proposals for research and innovation in the NHS long-term plan. We know that research active hospitals result in better outcomes for patients; engagement with patients, carers and the public in research must be woven throughout our NHS.

For research to be truly patient-centric it needs to reflect the increasing numbers of people with multiple long-term conditions. Our proposals highlight that our NHS has a unique opportunity to support research into multimorbidities.

The contribution that charities make to research in the NHS is substantial. Members of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) fund 29% of non-commercial research in the NHS.

The digital health revolution is coming; charities, and the data they curate, will be key drivers. In our proposal we’ve outlined how NHS England has the opportunity to improve the utility of NHS data for research and make the most of the medical research charity sector.

In order for our proposals to have the greatest impact, our NHS must ensure that the ‘batteries are included’ in the long-term plan. Without a sufficient research workforce the full potential of research and innovation in the NHS to benefit patients will not be realised.”

Notes to editors

In our proposals for how NHS England should support research and innovation in the long-term plan we recommend the following:

  1. Embed engagement with patients, carers and the public in research and innovation – NHS England should commit to supporting a doubling of the numbers of patients involved in clinical trials over the next five years (by 2023).
  2. Invest in research that supports people living with multiple long-term conditions – To support research into multimorbidities, NHS England should work with the NIHR and others to prioritise the identification of clusters of disease and support more ‘real world’ studies with real people (like the Salford Lung Study).
  3. Ringfence time for clinicians and support for staff to conduct research – NHS England should explore best practice in ensuring clinicians have sufficient time for research to inform national policy over the next 12 months.
  4. Make data and digital support research and deliver patient benefit – NHS England should: work to improve the utility of NHS data for research; act to coalesce charities, funders and commercial organisations in the development of digital health initiatives; and ensure preparedness for the adoption of emerging technologies including AI and other data-driven technologies.
  5. Support charities, patients and carers in navigating the plethora of new organisations – NHS England should make use of the unique bridging role of charities to better align patient care, research and innovation, and ensure research is seen by the NHS as integral to care.