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Research and evaluation

Dedicated research time could improve recruitment and retention of NHS staff, say academics

Guaranteeing healthcare professionals protected time to devote to research has the potential to be “transformational,” according to a report by the Academy of Medical Sciences.

The report, ‘Transforming health through innovation: Integrating the NHS and academia’, was published on 8 January 2020 and said the move could boost recruitment and retention — particularly in hard-to-recruit areas — and help prevent burnout.

The national academy, set up to advance biomedical and health research, called for an initial pilot scheme offering protected research time to one in five consultants at ten hospitals, one day per week.

It estimates the project would cost around £25m. However, in the long run, would be cost-neutral owing to the benefits to recruitment and patient outcomes.

While the report outlines a pilot aimed at hospital consultants, it adds that “similar pilots should be explored in future for primary care and public health practitioners, nurses, midwives, allied health professionals, dentists and pharmacists”.

The academy predicted its proposals would “generate the changes needed in academia and healthcare organisations across the UK that will be critical if we are to remain globally competitive in the life sciences”.

Sir Robert Lechler, president of the Academy Medical Sciences, said: “Protecting and strengthening research is a win–win situation for patients, the NHS, universities and our economy. Research is the tonic the NHS needs right now.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20207550

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