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Time for research: Delivering innovative patient care in Wales

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As the Senedd cross party group on medical research met for the final time on Wednesday 10 July 2019 before parliamentary summer recess, the RCP Cymru Wales published a variety of recommendations aimed at the Welsh Government, NHS Wales, doctors, patients and research bodies. 

Research is crucial to excellent patient care. Research-active hospitals have improved outcomes for patients and many doctors regard research as an important part of their job and a very positive experience. 

The Welsh NHS faces many challenges. Staffing shortages and financial pressures clearly cannot be ignored, nor can the need to deliver more integrated care to support patients, but we cannot afford to store up problems for the future by letting research fall by the wayside. Investing in research will deliver long-term gains for patients and public health – which is after all what the NHS is there to do. 

Yet we know that clinicians often struggle to secure protected time for patient-facing research. 

Too many clinicians fit in their research commitments around the rest of their job. With an increasing number of rota gaps in many hospitals, 43% of consultant physicians in Wales tell us that their research is one of the first things to be dropped when the NHS is under pressure. 

Among other recommendations, the RCP is calling on the Welsh Government and NHS Wales to: 

  • implement the recommendations of the Reid and Diamond Reviews 
  • provide clear national leadership on the importance of medical research 
  • review clinical research funding streams in Wales, especially if the UK leaves the EU 
  • work with the medical community to ensure NHS staff have protected research time.