Editorials

Their lordships on medical research

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.310.6994.1552 (Published 17 June 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:1552
  1. Richard Smith
  1. Editor BMJ London WC1H 9JR

    Too backward looking

    Historically research policy swings between two poles. One pole is research driven by researchers pursuing what makes them curious and the opposite pole is research directed by politicians and managers to solve the problems that most concern them. The 1988 House of Lords report on medical research (produced with advice from Walter Holland, a professor with a particular interest in health services research) identified the fact that most medical research in Britain bore little relation to the needs of the NHS.1 From that House of Lords report grew the NHS research and development programme. But this week their lordships (advised this time by Keith Peters, regius professor of physics in Cambridge and a biomedical researcher to his fingertips) have produced a report in which they are worried that things have gone to far (p 1555).2 3 Now they are concerned that hospital based clinical research is losing out to health services research and research inprimary care and nursing. Their fears may be exaggerated.

    Most BMJ readers are probably bewildered by the proliferation of reports on research, so I will summarise the story so far. The first House of Lords report was born into the ferment of the debate that preceded the NHS changes, and the government …

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