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Call to staff medical schools effectively

Medical schools need adequate staffing levels to ensure continued excellence in research.

researchThe BMA makes the call in response to a new report highlighting the contribution and impact of UK medical schools' research across the UK.

Health of the Nation was published today by the Medical Schools Council and covers the spectrum from clinical practice to global health and the economy.

BMA medical academic staff committee co-chair Peter Dangerfield said UK medical research had made a ‘considerable’ contribution to the UK ensuring [the] health of its population at home abroad.

‘I think we should welcome the excellence of UK medical research.

‘We must ensure the medical schools are supported to ensure adequate levels of staffing to educate and train the next generation of doctors in research and medical practice,’ Professor Dangerfield said.

Professor Dangerfield added that NHS doctors must have time and facilities to undertake and support teaching and research to ensure the academic career pathway remained attractive.

The examples of research contained within the report are taken from medical schools’ submissions to the REF (Research Excellence Framework) which revealed its results last month.

The REF is a star rating system that assesses the quality of research across 154 universities.

Economic growth

The results showed that the impact of clinical medicine is unmatched in the percentage of its research achieving the highest rating of 4* grade.

Medical Schools Council chair Iain Cameron said the life sciences sector was the UK’s third largest contributor to economic growth with a turnover of more than £50bn.

Professor Cameron said the expertise that drove the sector came from universities and said medical schools played a key role.

‘It is crucial for the nation’s health and wealth that investment in medical research and the broader life sciences sector is sustained,’ he said.

One example of research contained within the report includes research on cot death from Bristol University which saw a change in advice to parents and a 54 per cent drop in related deaths in the UK.

Another includes Swansea University’s research in to using laser and intense pulsed light technologies to treat skin conditions.

This created partnerships with major companies and led to what the Welsh Government referred to as an ‘exemplar of the resurgence of UK specialist manufacturing’.