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UK policy framework for health and social care research

The Health Research Authority (HRA) and the UK Health Departments1 are committed to an environment where:

  • patiients, service users and the public3are given, and take, the opportunity to participate in health and social care research and to get involved in its design, management, conduct and dissemination, and are confident about doing so;
  • safer, more efficient or more effective treatments, care and other services are developed and tested through ethical and scientifically sound research for the benefit of patients, service users and the public;
  • applying to do research is simple and getting a decision is quick, with predictable timelines;
  • researchers find it straightforward to do high-quality, ethical research;
  • commissioners and providers of health and social care appreciate how health and social care research benefits patients, service users, staff and the public, and make their resources available for research;
  • industry sees the UK as a great place to do health and social care research, and increases its investment for the benefit of patients and service users;
  • money from charities and other research funders goes into carrying out research, not into navigating needless bureaucracy or duplicating previous work; and
  • research projects get registered, the data and tissue they collect can be made available for future analysis, with adequate consent and privacy safeguards, and research findings4 get published and summarised for those who took part in them.

Research is a core function of health and social care. It is essential for our health and well-being and for the care we receive. Research should improve the evidence base, reduce uncertainties and lead to improvements in care. Evidence5,6,7 suggests the quality of current care may be higher in organisations that take part in research, adopt a learning culture and implement research findings. Improved care can give people a better quality of life and the country benefits from more money and jobs if the UK environment for research attracts international research funders to invest and carry out their research here. Research develops the skills of staff in our universities, businesses and health and social care. It also involves patients, service users and the public in the pursuit of knowledge that may benefit them and others, not only by their participation in research but also by their involvement in setting research priorities, in the design, management, conduct and dissemination of research, in public engagement about research, as members of research approval bodies such as research ethics committees or in funding research through taxes and charitable donations.