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UK medical research under threat

21st December 2007

A report from a UK body representing higher education institutions has warned that British academic research could lose out to cheaper alternatives in rapidly developing countries such as India and China.

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The policy document from Universities UK concludes that while the UK faces increased competition from the global market, it is well placed to take on that challenge because of its good track record and wealth of expertise.

However, the UK’s position in the international research arena is threatened by several factors.

These include NHS bureaucracy, lack of continuity due to the different funding processes adopted by the various research councils, and comparatively low pay making it difficult to attract suitably qualified clinical staff.

It also feared that new government priorities could undermine the basic research agenda carried out by universities.

The Universities UK document took the form of a SWOT analysis, looking at Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Professor Sir Andrew Haines, chair of Universities UK Health and Social Care Policy Committee, pointed out that universities were currently responsible for most of the healthcare research carried out in the UK.

But despite exciting opportunities ahead, he warned that basic research initiatives needed to be protected.

He said: “In order to ensure that advances in basic science drive the development of effective new interventions, and that the NHS delivers those interventions to patients, it is essential that the full spectrum of health research is adequately funded.?

The Medical Research Council will receive £682m of government funding by 2010/11 and the National Institute for Health Research some £982m.

 

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