Researchers condemn changes to NHS

A GOVERNMENT task force has provided the first hard evidence of the disruptive impact of health service changes on research and development in the NHS.

The task force, which heard evidence from more than 200 sources at every level in the NHS and research community, found that 'almost every respondent had serious concerns' over the threat posed to R & D by the changes and other government healthcare policies, including the reorganisation of London's healthcare and GP fund-holding.

The findings confirm the growing anecdotal evidence collected by doctors and research bodies. Nine leading doctors and scientists last month revealed they were leaving London because of fears for the future of medical research and teaching in the capital in the new internal market. Five of them are world-renowned geneticists.

Several teaching hospitals are also losing key figures, and the UK Co-ordinating Committee on Cancer Research has said clinical trials are in jeopardy.

The report of the task force, published yesterday, concluded that an emphasis on priority setting and cost-effectiveness had 'exposed deficiencies in the mechanism for setting overall R&D priorities and for directing NHS funds towards them'.

Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for Health, welcomed the report's recommendations to safeguard the long-term future of NHS R & D but refused to accept that the internal market had damaged existing work. She also dismissed claims that an NHS 'brain drain' was under way as 'ludicrous doom-mongering' and cited several examples of top foreign scientists moving here to take up NHS research posts.

Professor Anthony Culyer and his team heard that competition in the internal market was 'inimical' to R & D which accounts for 1 per cent of the NHS budget of pounds 36bn. Health care purchasers and providers were unwilling to invest in it because they did not own the results.

There was evidence, respondents claimed, that '. . . short-term cost pressures were also driving out R & D- related investment . . . The clinical science base was being eroded'.

Others said that 'increasing reliance was being placed on special trustees and industrial sponsors to fund the continuation of programmes'.

Professor Culyer admitted yesterday that the objectives of the internal market were at odds with that of R & D programmes. 'What is being highlighted is a tension (between the two).'

The report, which makes more than 20 recommendations, also addresses long-established problems of ad hoc funding and lack of accountability. No one knows exactly how much is spent each year on R & D or what on. It proposes that a single source of funding should replace the current 'diverse' mechanism from 1995-96.

It also recommends a central forum to exchange information between research bodies which sponsor or support NHS R & D to better target projects to clinical need.

Supporting Research and Development in the NHS; HMSO; pounds 5.95.

David Blunkett, Labour's spokesman on health, yesterday said a survey commissioned by John Major showed the NHS could be a weapon for Labour at the next election. The survey identified the NHS as one of the four key issues which had alienated voters from the Tories.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing