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NIHR HTA funded research benefits patients and improves service

Date: 07 September 2015

Research funded for the NHS has benefits for patients and improves service provision. This is the finding of a report looking at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

The report, conducted by RAND Europe, focused on the impact of research funded by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme. It looked at HTA funded research from 2003 to 2013 and its impact on patient health, clinical practice, health policy, the economy and academia. The HTA Programme funds independent research about the effectiveness, costs and broader impact of healthcare treatments and tests for those who plan, provide or receive care in the NHS.

This report demonstrates that the close relationship between the HTA Programme and key bodies such as NICE and the National Screening Committee mean that the Programme succeeds in achieving this aim. HTA research findings directly inform those who set standards for high quality service provision in the UK. Another report, published in Health Research Policy and Systems, found that 76 percent of NICE clinical guidelines include evidence from HTA studies1.

The Programme’s value lies in independent assessment of the methods used to promote health, prevent and treat disease, and improve rehabilitation and long-term care – often stopping ineffective treatments – and ensuring those that can benefit people are cost-effective to deliver in the NHS.

The report also noted that internationally the Programme is seen as a leader in HTA research, advancing the science and contributing to high quality life sciences research and development.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer welcomed the report saying: Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, welcomed the report saying: “I am delighted we have a report validating the extremely valuable work of the NIHR HTA Programme. The research it has funded is benefiting patients, improving service provision and helping the NHS make efficient use of its resources. It shows how our investment in research is making a difference to the health and wealth of the nation.”

Tom Walley, Director of the HTA Programme commented: “This independent and rigorous report confirms the enormous value of pragmatic clinical research supported by the NIHR HTA programme to the NHS. It shows that even a small part of the HTA Programme's activity repays investment in research to the NHS. This is a very positive outcome for NIHR, the Programme, our researchers, and of course patients and the NHS".

“The need for high quality evidence to inform service provision and commissioning, enable patient choice, and ensure efficient use of NHS resources is ever increasing. To continue to meet this challenge, the Programme needs to carry on learning and innovating to meet NHS needs, reduce bureaucracy where possible, commission research that has impact and support implementation.”

Chief investigator of the report Dr Steven Wooding, Senior Research Leader at RAND Europe said: “As a publicly funded research programme, it is important the HTA Programme demonstrates the benefits that it brings to patients, the public and society. We gathered expert opinions from lead researchers across the whole programme, key people in government, patient groups, and other funders of research to enable us to identify the benefits resulting from research funded by the HTA Programme.”

The report has published in Health Technology Assessment.

1.     Impact of NIHR HTA Programme funded research on NICE clinical guidelines: a retrospective cohort