Department of Health and Social Care
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Government action to fund gaps in health research

Government action to fund gaps in health research

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH News Release issued by COI News Distribution Service. 14 October 2008

A new £5 million research programme which is intended to lead to an increase in service quality and patient safety through better ways of planning and providing health services was announced today by Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo, during a visit to Southampton.

The new Health Services Research (HSR) programme will provide funding across the country for a broader range of health services research than is already covered by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) programmes. These include the Health Technology Assessment programme (HTA), the Service Delivery & Organisation programme (SDO), the Efficacy & Mechanism Evaluation programme (EME), Programme Grants for Applied Research and the Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) programme.

These programmes are all specialist sub-sets in the field of health services research, which means that some projects may be difficult to fund because they fall outside of established NIHR funding streams, as well as those covered by the Medical Research Council and the Department of Health.

The HSR programme will fund research mainly through a researcher-led workstream, whereby grants are provided for both primary and evidence synthesis on topics proposed directly by researchers, on an ongoing basis. The programme may also advertise calls for research proposals on specific topics. The first call for expressions of interest will be taking place in January 2009. For more details and to register your interest visit

Dawn Primarolo said:

"Health services research produces knowledge that can lead to the improvement of health policy, health systems, and health care delivery, ultimately resulting in improvements in population health. This area of research has already made a valuable contribution to the improvement of health and health care in the UK. With this new programme we are taking action to fund important research where there is currently no alternative source of funding.

"The Government recognised the importance of health services research in its national health research strategy Best Research for Best Health, where one of the strategic goals is to commission research focused on improving health and care. The Cooksey review also highlighted the need for increased funding to support research into the implementation of new products and approaches into practice."

Professor Sally C. Davies, Director General of Research & Development at the Department of Health said:

"All types of study designs appropriate to health services research will be supported, which include both primary research and evidence syntheses. Our early work with stakeholders has highlighted a number of key areas likely to be of interest to this new programme. These include cultural and organisational issues around patient safety, making better use of existing research knowledge through modelling, and the use of existing health data to improve the planning and delivery of health services and systems."

Notes to editors

1. The NIHR Health Services Research (HSR) programme will have two modes of operation. It will mainly work in researcher-led 'responsive' mode, but it may also make calls for proposals in areas of particular interest, importance or strategic need, to be approved by the programme's board. Such commissioning may address precise research questions or broader themed calls.

2. The HSR programme will use NIHR governance and management processes. The programme will be led by a Programme Director, who will be responsible to the Department of Health Director General of Research and Development via the NIHR Director of Evaluation, Trials and Studies. There will be consistency between the management of the programme and other NIHR programmes, with flexibility where needed to meet the specific needs of the HSR programme. Further details about the call for research proposals and the remit of the HSR programme are available from

3. The NIHR HSR programme will be managed alongside other NIHR programmes by the NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Co-ordinating Centre (NETSCC) based at the University of Southampton. Further details about NETSCC and the programmes it manages are available from

4. The National Institute for Health Research provides the framework through which the research staff and research infrastructure of the NHS in England is positioned, maintained and managed as a national research facility. The NIHR provides the NHS with the support and infrastructure it needs to conduct first-class research funded by the Government and its partners alongside high-quality patient care, education and training. Its aim is to support outstanding individuals (both leaders and collaborators), working in world class facilities (both NHS and university), conducting leading edge research focused on the needs of patients. More information about the National Institute for Health Research is available on its website at:

5. The National Institute for Health Research's progress report 'Transforming Health Research the first two years' can be downloaded from the NIHR website at:

6. For further details please call the Department of Health press office on: 020 7210 5221


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