Responsibility for medical research is likely to fall to GP commissioning consortia, claims an editorial published in the British Journal of General Practice.
In the editorial written by University of Cambridge academic and GP Dr Jonathan Graffy, the issue of medical research is said to be one that will fall to GP commissioning consortia to take control of locally.
Dr Graffy, senior clinical research associate in the department of public health and primary care at the University, said the new NHS Commissioning Board would be responsible for promoting research nationally.
However, he said: “It is less clear how these responsibilities will be met locally. It seems likely that, along with a host of other activities, responsibility for research will fall to GP consortia” as part of the government’s planned reforms for the NHS.
Dr Graff said there could be several advantages to GP commissioners taking a lead role in research locally, because they understood the importance of research and individual practices were often asked to help with recruitment to clinical research so had a sense of how studies would fit with everyday work and if proposed arrangements were sound.
In the east of England, for example, 98 of the 812 GP practices were currently accredited under the RCGP Research Ready scheme and 318 (39%) of the practices helped in recruiting 13,655 participants in 2010.
However, he added, the practical aspects may seem “daunting”, given the range of other responsibilities that consortia would be asked to take on.
“There is a strong case for local partnerships to share this work, bringing together the different functions of governance, hosting Primary Care Research Network (PCRN) staff and coordinating projects that member consortia develop with academic partners,” he said.
"This would not mean that GPs needed to get bogged down in the detail of research management; instead, they would bring their understanding of a topic’s importance and whether particular studies might or might not fit into everyday practice.”