Millions of pounds of government funding has been allocated to health research teams in a move welcomed by BMA medical academics.
Medical academic researchers in 13 teams across England will benefit from the £124m cash injection, supporting projects in different clinical areas over the next five years.
The investment from the NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) will aid a diverse range of research work, including projects on better aftercare for stroke patients and diabetes prevention.
BMA medical academic staff committee co-chair Michael Rees said the funding was a valuable asset.
‘It is very important funding for research, which is geographically well-distributed throughout England and covers a range of clinically important and relevant topics,’ he said.
‘The MASC is very pleased to see this development in research in the UK.
‘We wish to support the clinical academic researchers carrying out this work.’
Read one MASC member's research fund success story
The money will be invested in health research which includes studies to reduce the risk of dementia through exercise, and strategies to improve the nutrition and health of those already diagnosed.
Other projects aim to reduce pressures on emergency departments and the number of hospital admissions in children under five and people with long term conditions.
It is hoped the financial boost will also help stimulate the research economy and attract more research funding in the future.
Research investment ‘vital’
Health minister Lord Howe (pictured below) said: ‘We want the UK to lead the world in terms of health research and this announcement underlines that commitment.
‘It is vital that we invest in health research, not only to create the opportunities for health research to grow — but also to help our economy thrive so we can compete in the global race.
‘This is great news for patients — this funding could potentially help the development of ground-breaking treatments which could revolutionise care.’
The successful researchers teams were those who demonstrated their project could make ‘a real impact’ on the lives of NHS patients.
This could be through researching revolutionary new treatments to tackle the biggest killer diseases, or solutions to improve the lives of patients by transforming their care.
Each successful team will now be known as CLAHRCS (Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care).
Chief medical officer for England and Department of Health scientific adviser Professor Dame Sally Davies, said she was ‘delighted’ to hear of the schemes.
She said: ‘The teams are following a strong tradition of success as the NIHR has a proven record track record of world-class health research in the NHS.
‘Supporting our leading researchers is so important and these CLAHRCs will link the NHS, universities, and other relevant organisations providing care for patients in what will be ground-breaking work to improve the lives of thousands of patients across the country.’
See which projects were successful
Liverpool professor of general practice Mark Gabbay (pictured right) — a member of the BMA medical academic staff committee — leads a research team in the North West, which was awarded £9m.
NHS organisations, local authorities and universities in the North West area have invested a further £12.5m to support Professor Gabbay’s research, which will address health inequality issues.
Professor Gabbay’s team at Liverpool University will now investigate how to improve mental healthcare and look at new ways of working with NHS organisations in delivering health programmes.
He said: ‘It is very exciting and I am obviously delighted. We are quite novel in working with local authorities to help them look at how they focus on health inequalities.
‘Clearly, the hope is — working closely with our collaborators — we will design better research that is more relevant to the needs of health and social care of patients.
‘We will work with deprived neighbourhoods to look at what their health concerns are.
‘This will make a real difference to the quality of life and the quality of healthcare in ways that reduce health inequalities rather than increase them.’
Liverpool clinical commissioning group chair Nadim Fazlani said Liverpool had some of the ‘most demanding’ health challenges in England.
‘This funding ensures we can meet these challenges head on and start to plan effective treatments and techniques,’ said Dr Fazlani.
‘[These] will greatly improve the quality of life of patients in the city, ensuring they are healthier and happier.’
Liverpool pro-vice chancellor for the faculty of health and life sciences Ian Greer said the investment showed commitment to developing innovative and quality services.
He added: ‘The programme will deliver research that translates into better health outcomes and will make a real difference to the delivery of new treatments and greatly improve the quality of life of patients.’