Examination of Witnesses (Questions 39
TUESDAY 7 DECEMBER 1999
MP, YVETTE COOPER
MP, LORD SAINSBURY
NHS Research and Development Strategy
39. I am conscious of the pressures on your
time. We do have some more questions on NHS R&D. Would you
like to answer that or do you feel that the time is too short?
(Mr Denham) Please go ahead, my Lord Chairman.
Lord Perry of Walton
40. I was a member of the Committee which reported
and which led to the establishment of the R&D strategy in
the NHS. We have heard rumours that this arrangement may be struggling,
possibly because of inter-trust competition in some areas. Can
you assure us that the original vision is still being realised?
(Ms Cooper) On the issue of the inter-trust competition,
obviously that was a feature of the internal market, which has
been abolished by the Health Act of 1999. The internal market
has been replaced by integrated care, involving greater collaboration
between commissioners and providers of health, as well as social
care. Obviously, R&D strategy in future needs to be seen in
that context, which is a changed context. The R&D is an important
part of the modernisation programme in that respect. What we need
to do is to make sure that all of the clinical and managerial
and policy decisions made in this field are evidence based. The
Central Research and Development Committee of the NHS has just
completed a review of its priorities for the NHS R&D investment,
and the operation of its funding system in the future, the outcome
of which will be announced. That will be in the new year. This
is in the context of a situation where we expect to see far more
collaboration and far more partnership working between sections
of the NHS right across the country, as one way of getting round
the problem that you have raised.
Lord Perry of Walton: You can, in fact, reassure
us that it is going to go ahead?
Lord Walton of Detchant
41. And have you reached the 1.5 per cent target
of NHS expenditure to be spent on R&D, which was the original
(Ms Cooper) Not being responsible for the R&D
area I cannot answer that but I am sure we can write to the Committee
on that point.
42. One of the issuesI declare an interest
in being a R&D directorI notice that there are some
parts of London where you have one medical school but several
trusts, and there are problems very often because of the commonalities
in research but different health care issues. Do you think there
are ways round this in the management of the NHS?
(Mr Denham) Picking up what Yvette Cooper has already
said, the Strategic Review of the way the research and development
levy operates will help to address these issues. The first has
been considering a number of research priority areas and investments
needed in them. What follows from that is that they have been
looking at how we might improve the funding systems, so that we
do target funding more effectively and get better value for money
from our research effort. That obviously has to include the institutional
arrangements through which that is actually delivered on the ground.
We have been doing this work and the Ministers hope to report
on the conclusions they have reached, having looked at that report,
in the new year.
Lord Jenkin of Roding
43. May I ask if Yvette Cooper has recognised,
what she was describing as the collaboration between trusts and
authorities and between trusts and trusts, that this was already
happening effectively in some areas well before the change in
the new Bill? I particularly should declare an interest as a former
Chairman of the Forest Health Care Trust where we were doing just
(Ms Cooper) I am extremely glad to hear that this
kind of collaboration is going on. Certainly, I know there are
other parts of the country where effective collaboration is not
happening in the way it should be, but it is reassuring to know
that it has been going on in some areas.
Chairman: I think there is a widespread feeling
that it has not been a universal phenomenon, unfortunately. Ministers
and Dr Troop, you have been colossally generous with your time.
We are very grateful to you for coming. Thank you very much indeed.
6 Priorities in Medical Research, 3rd Report
1987-88, HL Paper 54. Back
See supplementary memorandum on page 28. Back