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Departments: Research

Volume 459: debated on Wednesday 2 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) to what extent preferences shown by members of the public influence the research priorities set by her Department's research and development division; (132218)

(2) what (a) process and (b) decision-making criteria will be used to set research funding priorities for her Department's research and development division in each of the next three years; and what the timetable is for the setting of those priorities in each year;

(3) what formula is used to set funding allocations for different medical research specialties for her Department's research and development.

The Department funds National Health Service Research and Development through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Information on the priority setting processes for each NIHR programme is available through the NIHR website at The Government's strategy for health research ‘Best Research for Best Health’ was subject to open public consultation.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and the United Kingdom National Screening Committee also act as customers for departmental research, and advisory bodies, research funders groups and topic review groups play a role in identifying research gaps and requirements.

The Department's Policy Research Programme (PRP) commissions research to support the development, implementation and evaluation of policy in public health, health services and adult social care. Priorities for the PRP are determined by the Department's strategic objectives and public service agreements, and through discussion between officials and with Ministers.

The NIHR national advisory group INVOLVE promotes and supports active public involvement in all aspects of NHS, public health and social care research. Its website ( and its publications give both researchers and the public information and advice on the range of opportunities for such involvement that exist.

More specifically, any individual or organisation can submit a suggestion for consideration by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme. An electronic form is available on the HTA website at