Government announces £800m to boost innovation and improve patient safety

The government has announced that over £800m will be allocated by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) to support specialist research facilities.

The announcement will see further investment in scientific expertise supporting access to new technology and research projects.

woman inside laboratory

Nearly £790m has been awarded to 20 NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) across England – including a new centre in Exeter – over the next five years to drive innovation in the diagnosis and treatment of illness across a variety of high-priority disease areas including cancer, mental health and dementia.

In addition, £25m over the next five years has been awarded to six NIHR Patient Safety Research Centres (PSRCs) to help improve understanding and resolution of patient safety challenges. The funding will support research to improve incident reporting and investigations, digital innovations to improve patient safety and harness learning from service adaptation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding will be distributed across the country, with over £260m being invested outside London, Oxford and Cambridge.

Health and Social Care Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: ‘The pandemic has highlighted the importance of our booming research sector and the potential it has to not only strengthen health and care services, but lead to lifesaving developments.

‘This additional funding will harness the UK’s world-leading innovation and allow research centres up and down the country to attract experts in their field and conduct research that saves lives.

‘From helping develop the COVID-19 vaccine to discovering world-first treatments, these centres have already delivered ground-breaking research and will continue to help us tackle some of the biggest health challenges we face, including cancer, to ensure the NHS continues to deliver world-class care.’

Over the past nine years, the NIHR BRCs have supported almost 60,000 experimental medicine research studies. These have resulted in direct health benefits for patients, including progressing innovative and faster diagnosis, as well as the development of the Oxford AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine for COVID-19.

NIHR Chief Executive Professor Lucy Chappell said: ‘This huge investment into early stage health and care research and patient safety innovation recognises the strength of expertise in these areas across the country, and gives our best researchers more opportunities to improve care and treatment for patients nationwide.

‘These investments showcase our scientific excellence, ensuring that the UK benefits from the latest innovations and advancements in research and enables a strong and competitive research workforce to be further developed. They are crucial to ensuring that patients receive the highest quality, safest care.’

Photo by Ani Kolleshi


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