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Call for trusts to engage more in research

Financial support may be needed to make aims a reality

Adrian O'Dowd

Monday, 02 December 2019

Doctors’ leaders are calling for more NHS trusts to allow and encourage their staff to have a role in research which could benefit all involved.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has launched the next phase of its campaign for more research to be conducted in NHS trusts to support high quality patient care, with protected time for research undertaken by doctors, nurses and other clinicians.

The college has issued a new statement Benefiting from the ‘research effect’: The case for trusts supporting clinicians to become more research active and innovative, which is endorsed by 20 organisations.

These include the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Medical Schools Council, the Association of Medical Research Charities (which represents more than 140 charities), Health Education England and several royal colleges and medical faculties.

The statement sets out the many potential benefits for patients, trusts and staff from having a greater focus on research.

For trusts, there could be improved recruitment and retention of staff as well as cost-effective innovations and savings when research is put into practice, said the statement.

Staff, meanwhile, could enjoy better morale and job satisfaction and build new skills and networks while the benefits for patients included a better care experience and improved outcomes.

Professor Cheng-Hock Toh, RCP academic vice-president, said: “We are providing trust chief executives with a clear case for ensuring that an increase in research activity is within their strategic plans, together with clear and practical steps they and their teams can take to ensure research is embedded in clinical and laboratory practice.

“I want to support chief executives to become champions for promoting equal patient and clinician access to research to unlock the benefits of research for all.”

Responding to the campaign, Nick Ville, policy director of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said: “Workforce is the number one worry of health leaders and more research in trusts can help staff to build new skills which improves morale and job satisfaction.

“There are lots of examples of research being taken on more widely after starting in one corner of the NHS and the expertise of medical graduates should be encouraged.

“As well as a much-needed tool to aid recruitment and retention of staff, the benefits for patients include better care and improved outcomes.

“However, trusts may not be able to bridge the short-term gap in terms of hours lost easily and financial support from government to take this initiative forward would be welcome.”

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