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Office for Strategic Co-ordination of Health Research

Volume 705: debated on Tuesday 25 November 2008

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health (Alan Johnson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Office for Strategic Co-ordination of Health Research (OSCHR) was established 22 months ago following Sir David Cooksey’s recommendations for better co-ordination of health research activities across the UK, and a stronger focus on translating basic science into improved care for NHS patients. Sir David’s report A Review of UK Health Research Funding was published in December 2006. The first progress report from the chairman of OSCHR, Professor Sir John Bell, was published on 18 November 2008.

Sir John’s report Office for Strategic Coordination of Health: Chairman’s First Progress Report highlights the main elements of the combined approach that has been put in place by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) since the Cooksey review. This period has seen an unprecedented commitment to health research in terms of funding, infrastructure, research programmes and the volume of health research commissioned.

The Government’s single health research fund, which will soon top £1.7 billion a year, is allocated by the Department of Health to the National Institute for Health Research in England, and by the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills to the Medical Research Council, which supports research throughout the United Kingdom.

The progress report also announces that the Prime Minister has asked for a set of national ambitions for health research to be developed to build on the progress so far and encourage the translation of major research breakthroughs into new NHS treatments and services. The national ambitions will be developed independently of government by the research funding bodies, under the auspices of OSCHR, in consultation with the academic community.

A copy of the report has been placed in the Library.