Research in the NHS & the NIHR

Wellcome Library, London A young man conducting an experiment in a chemical laboratory.
Wellcome Library, London
A young man conducting an experiment in a chemical laboratory.

Every month my organisation hosts a Research Club – a chance to hear about research relevant to our work NHS Trust, or current research going on in the organisation. The November Research Club was on the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) – the “NHS of research”.

I wasn’t aware of the NIHR before, so it was a useful introduction, as well as a compelling appeal for closer working between NIHR and NHS Trusts.

Why do research?

  • To improve the experience of care. This is particularly important in mental health because unlike most physical health we generally want people to come back
  • Patients like it. A study by the speaker showed that mental health patients were really keen to get involved in research. And, those involved in research live longer
  • It enriches the intellectual environment, and in psychiatry it’s quite stale

The NIHR is the “NHS of research”. It is made up of 15 regions and 30 specialities, of which we come under mental health. It funds research through grants, for which there are competitive bids, and it puts funding into Trusts to support local research activity. The NIHR also funds the Research Design Service (RDS), which offers support for designing research. It’s a rigorous process, such as picking apart your methodology, but if the RDS has been used, it scores a point for a proposal for funding.

It was inspiring to hear NIHR call for research embedded into mental health clinical practice, in a similar way as in oncology where research is so prominent.

I hadn’t known about NIHR before the Research Club, so I’m really glad I attended. It is a major institution intertwined with the research done in my organisation – of which I am involved in part, as I often carry out literature searches for researchers or advise in how to find evidence.

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