by Yvette Cooper MP
NHS R&D FUNDING: 1.5 PER CENT TARGET
1. The previous administration established
a target for expenditure on R&D of 1.5 per cent of the NHS
Budget. This was before the introduction of the current NHS funding
system in which the NHS Trusts were asked to declare how much
they spent on or in association with R&D. This target was
based on comparisons with the private sector which indicated that
a typical proportion for R&D expenditure was between 1 per
cent and 2 per cent of total budget.
2. In 1993, it was not known exactly how
much was being spent on R&D in the NHS Estimates in 1995 suggested
1.2 per cent of total NHS resources were associated with R&D
and this estimate was quoted in a Government response to a House
of Lords Select Committee report. At that time, the Government
stood by the target of 1.5 per cent set out in Research for
3. However, it was also acknowledged, in
evidence given to the Select Committee,
that as information systems on NHS R&D funding improved we
should not be enslaved by the 1.5 per cent target.
4. In the last three years, the NHS R&D
Levy has represented the following percentage of totals for NHS
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of column 2
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* Figures from Departmental Report on the Government's
expenditure Plans for 1999-2000
5. The 1995 government response to the Select Committee
said that one of the principles of the NHS R&D Levy was that
R&D funding should remain on the historical pattern until
improved information systems were in place. These information
systems would cover R&D activity, costs, outputs and quality.
The NHS made its first annual reports on allocations from the
NHS R&D Levy in 1999. The electronic National Research Register
containing 50,000 records of research activities in the NHS (including
some 20,000 current) was also launched in 1999.
6. 1.5 per cent of total health spending in 1999-2000
was £596 million. Increasing R&D expenditure to that
level would have meant reallocating £160 million which would
otherwise be spent on patient care.
7. A strategic review of NHS R&D funding was concluded
in October 1999. Recommendations are currently under consideration
by Ministers. The review made a number of recommendations for
further improving information on R&D activity.
NHS R&D FUNDING
8. In these circumstances, we question the need for a
financial target. We should work to ensure research in the NHS
is of consistently high quality, and that the choice of research
topics responds appropriately to the priorities and needs of the
9. The Government's aim is to ensure that there are enough
resources to meet the Health Service's needs for research and
its commitment to provide the NHS base for the national science
effort. It takes account of the contributions of other funders
of R&D in the NHS, including the research councils and medical
research charities; as well as of the universities that provide
the academic base for health research.
10. The level of funding through the NHS R&D Levy
is kept under review to achieve these aims.
Further to Q41 on page 27. Back
See Research for Health 1993, page 6. Back
See Research for Health, Cm 2984 1995, paragraph 56. Back
See Medical Research and the NHS Reforms, Evidence 1994-95,
HL Paper 12-1. Back
See Research for Health, Cm 2984 1995, paragraph 57. Back