Cameron pledges extra £85m to medical research

The government will inject an additional £17m a year over five years to boost NHS research and fund new centres to focus on dementia.

Mr Cameron: the investment of £800m over five years would have a ‘huge impact’ on NHS care

The additional money will pay for four new research units specialising in dementia and increase funding for biomedical research centres (BRCs) – collaborations between NHS foundation trusts and universities in England.

Prime minister David Cameron described the total five-year investment of £800m by 2017 as ‘unprecedented’ and said it would have a ‘huge impact’ on NHS care.

The NHS National Institute for Health Research established BRCs in 2007 to undertake ‘translational’ research – work that helps bring scientific research into medical practice.

The further investment, first announced in March, will see BRCs’ annual funding rise to over £160m, up from around £143m in 2011, although the number of centres will shrink by one to 11.

Biomedical research units (BRUs) specialise in translational research in areas less well represented by BRCs.

As preliminarily announced in June, four new units specialising in dementia will launch in April 2012, bringing the total number of units to 20.

Funded by a total of £3.6m a year, the new dementia units will involve joint working between NHS foundation trusts and universities in Cambridge, Newcastle and London.

Overall, the annual budget for all 20 BRUs will increase to £25m, up from £22m in 2011. Existing BRUs focus on cardiovascular disease, deafness, gastrointestinal disease, musculoskeletal disease, nutrition and respiratory disease.

Prime minister David Cameron said: ‘This unprecedented investment into the development of innovative medicines and treatments will have a huge impact on the care and services patients receive and help develop the modern, world-class health service patients' deserve.’

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: ‘We want to ensure we can give NHS patients the very best possible treatments and health outcomes. To do this we need to give British scientists the means and tools to develop ground breaking world class health research.’

Mr Lansley said developing new treatments to help patients with dementia was ‘essential’.

England's CMO Professor Dame Sally Davies, said: ‘By focussing on translational research across a wide range of diseases, the centres and units will help pull new scientific discoveries into benefits for NHS patients. I believe they will make a significant impact on the health of the population.’

*Figures revised at 16:30, from estimated spend for 2011/12 to actual values.

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