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Research Questions

  1. What are the ways in which NIHR has benefited the health research landscape in the past ten years?
  2. How, and through which mechanisms, has the NIHR transformed R&D in and for the NHS and the people it serves?

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funds and supports world-leading clinical and applied health and social care research, as well as research infrastructure in the NHS. Providing £1 billion of funding each year, NIHR aims to: drive the faster translation of new treatments, technologies and diagnostics to improve outcomes for health and care services; promote the wealth of the nation, including via inward investment from the health research community; pull basic science discoveries through into tangible benefits for patients and the public; and provide research evidence to support more effective and cost-effective NHS delivery.

To mark its tenth anniversary, the Department of Health commissioned the Policy Research in Science and Medicine unit to consider the question: 'What are the ways in which NIHR has benefited the health research landscape in the past ten years?'

This report identifies and celebrates 100 examples of positive change resulting from NIHR's support of research. A synthesis of 100 case studies is provided, which highlights the benefits and wider impacts of research, capacity building, and other activities undertaken with NIHR's support since its creation in 2006. The report concludes with a reflection of how the NIHR has transformed R&D in and for the NHS and wider health service, and the people they serve.

The report draws together — for the first time — examples of the breadth of NIHR's impacts in a single resource. It will be of interest to healthcare professionals involved in research, academics working in health and social care, and members of the public wishing to understand the value of research in the NHS and the wider health and care system.

Key Findings

In our case studies we see evidence that, over the past 10 years, NIHR has transformed R&D in and for the NHS and the people it serves:

NIHR is improving the health of the public nationally and internationally.

  • NIHR-supported public health research is leading to reductions in alcohol-related harm, improving smoking prevention strategies and increasing vaccination coverage for H1N1 and childhood immunisation. Worldwide, more than 1 million people stand to benefit from NIHR-funded research into the off-label use of tranexamic acid to aid clotting during traumatic bleeding.

NIHR is making the nation's healthcare system more effective, cost-effective and safer.

  • NIHR-funded research into patient safety has informed the World Health Organization's (WHO) Surgical Safety Checklist, which is significantly reducing post-operative complications. Other research is identifying cost-effective solutions that save money in areas ranging from physical therapy, to dementia, to diabetes

NIHR helps put patients and the public at the heart of research.

  • NIHR is a world leader in patient and public involvement, and there have been tangible improvements to how research is able to deliver patient benefit. INVOLVE, NIHR-funded national public involvement centre and advisory group, helps ensure that patients and the public are effectively involved at all stages of research studies, making them more acceptable and meaningful for research users of all ages.

NIHR supports a research infrastructure in the NHS.

  • NIHR supports a national research infrastructure of world-class research centres, units and facilities, as well as the Clinical Research Network. Together these provide coverage across the health research system in England and enable and facilitate both research funded by NIHR itself and research funded through charities, industry, and other government funders. In 2014/15, from an initial investment of £227.8 million, NIHR research infrastructure leveraged £1.06 billion in research funding from NIHR's public, charity and industry research funding partners.

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Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction to the report

  • Chapter Two

    Bringing breakthroughs to patients

  • Chapter Three

    Supporting the nation to deliver world-leading research with global impact

  • Chapter Four

    Making the nation's health and care system the best it can be

  • Chapter Five

    Working with charities and the third sector on common agendas

  • Chapter Six

    Supporting Public Health Delivery

  • Chapter Seven

    Putting patients and the public at the heart of all stages of research

  • Chapter Eight

    Creating opportunities for economic and social returns

  • Chapter Nine

    Enabling clinical research excellence

  • Chapter Ten

    Supporting, training and developing a diverse workforce in the NHS and academia

  • Chapter Eleven

    Investing across the nation

  • Chapter Twelve

    The NIHR at 10: 100 Activities, 10 Themes, 1 Transformation

Research conducted by

This is an independent report by the Policy Research in Science and Medicine (PRiSM) unit, commissioned and funded by the Policy Research Programme in the Department of Health. The PRiSM unit brings together research expertise from RAND Europe and the Policy Institute at King's College London.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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