Peers define best and worst of NHS research

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 17 June 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:1555

The NHS internal market is seriously damaging academic medicine and clinical research, a House of Lords select committee says in a report this week (see also p 1552). While commending some corrective action already taken by the government, the peers identify threats to long term

ethical issue would doubtless be resolved byanswering a firm “yes,” though this is certainly not common practice in Britain. Personally I would have no qualms about it—I'd feel better, though, if in the same breath I could point out that the whole of the sum would be used to support the departmental research programme. I would not expect patients to believe that a personal payment of, say, pounds sterling1000 for entering them into a new drug programme would have no influence on my view as to whether or not they were “suitable.” We're only human, after all—even the most dispassionate and academically minded of clinicians.

Perhaps this whole murky area is best viewed as another example of the somewhat uneasy relationship between academic departments (with research programmes to fulfil and enthusiastic young research fellows to support) and a pharmaceutical industry in which research and development considerations inevitably take second place to commercial hardheadedness. Nothing wrong with that, one might think; but it does leave a slightly bitter taste in the mouth.

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