Calls for central funding of research

GP leaders have called for medical research to be funded centrally, after warnings that GP consortia could be expected to fund and support it.

Dr McCarron-Nash: NHS at risk (Photograph: JH Lancy)
Dr McCarron-Nash: NHS at risk (Photograph: JH Lancy)

University of Cambridge academic and GP Dr Jonathan Graffy warned that 'responsibility for research will fall to GP consortia' after the government's NHS reforms.

In an editorial in the British Journal of General Practice, Dr Graffy, senior clinical research associate in the department of public health and primary care at the University of Cambridge, said the NHS Commissioning Board would be responsible for promoting research nationally.

But it seemed likely that 'GP consortia will need to review studies planned in their area, not least because of the impact of research on services they commission', he said.

'Commissioners who grasp the opportunity to collaborate with researchers in developing and testing their services will attract the best staff and bring new resources and insights to their work,' Dr Graffy added.

GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash said that research should be funded centrally, especially during at time of economic crisis. She warned that failure to secure investment could put the NHS at risk. 'Medical research is vital to remain at the forefront of best practice,' she said.

Although getting involved in research may seem 'daunting to GPs', Dr Graffy said that they do not need to get bogged down in research management.

Dr Graffy argued that NHS reforms could present GPs with an opportunity to reshape services in a less bureaucratic and more focused way.

'The same potential exists if GP commissioners grasp the opportunities to support and use health research as a core part of their work,' he said.

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