§ Mr. Carrington
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has for research and development in the NHS following the White Paper "Priorities in Medical Research" and the appointment of his Department's first director of research and development.
§ Mr. Waldegrave
I am pleased to announce a major initiative for research and development. A new R and D strategy and programme for the NHS will be introduced to provide a firm scientific basis for improving health. It will focus on the introduction of improved methods of health care arising from research and on the cost-effective use of resources.
Because of the importance I attach to the development of a research base for the health service I believe it is important to move towards the use of up to 1.5 per cent. of NHS expenditure to be used for research and development.
The key principles of the R and D strategy are:
- 1. That research and development is a prerequisite for achieving a cost effective service responsive to changes in health needs and innovation;
- 2. Accordingly, the NHS should invest at an appropriate level to achieve a coherent R and D Programme;
- 3. Responsibility for R and D needs to be devolved as far as possible to regional and local level with accountability for performance;
- 4. A mechanism is required to achieve overall balance and coherence;
- 5. R and D priorities which merit national rather than purely regional attention need to be set;
- 6. NHS—university collaboration needs to be ensured as well as close links with the Medical Research Council, charities and industry.
The R and D strategy will have the following main elements:
- i. a planned and managed approach by the NHS to health research to provide a scienfic basis for action to improve health;
- ii. a new countrywide R and D programme to be carried out by regional health authorities within a national framework;
- iii. the setting of national R and D priorities;
- iv. the setting up of a Central Research and Development Committee chaired by the Director of Research and Development;
- v. a requirement of regional health authorities to prepare, publish, resource, and implement (and be held to account for) research and development plans;
- vi. information systems on research outcomes for purchasers and providers of health care, for health policy and planning;
- vii. emphasis on practical developments arising from research, the prompt introduction of cost-effective developments into the NHS;
- viii. challenging but manageable national and regional expenditure targets;
- ix. collaboration with other research funding bodies to address issues of agreed national priority.
An announcement giving further details, including preliminary information about the subject matter and the management arrangements for the programme will be made towards the end of 1991.