Medical academics raise concern about research funding cut

Medical academics raise concern about research funding cut

In his pre-budget report today (Wednesday 6 December, 2006), the Chancellor confirmed the government will merge the research budgets for the NHS and the Medical Research Council, creating a single fund for the UK of “over £1 billion a year”. However, the combined value of medical research funding for 2007-8 was originally expected to be £1.3 billion.

While the BMA welcomes the drive to co-ordinate research funding, it is concerned by this apparent £300 million funding cut.

Professor Michael Rees, chairman of the BMA’s Medical Academic Staff Committee, says:

“We welcome the fact that the Chancellor has set out a clear vision for medical science, and in particular for applied research which benefits patients. This focus will encourage young doctors to engage in careers in medical research.

“We are also pleased that research and development budgets will be ringfenced. However, medical researchers need to be confident that baseline funding will not be eroded by the new combined fund. We have significant concerns about the possibility of the merger resulting in medical research being worse off by hundreds of millions of pounds.

“A cut of such magnitude would be very damaging. In recent years, patients have benefited hugely from new treatments that were made possible by clinical research. Future breakthroughs on cancer, heart disease, and child health depend heavily on the amount invested in research. We need to see more investment in these areas - certainly not less.”

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