RCP policy: research and academic medicine

Research is crucially important for the future health of our population and the delivery of excellent healthcare. The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) is encouraging all physicians to get more involved in research and working for research and medical academia to become an integral part of the NHS.

What we are doing

In 2016 the RCP published Research for all, a report based on a survey of our members and fellows. It found that research is essential to improve treatments and quality of life for patients, hone transferable skills and challenge doctors to advance their knowledge.

Based on the report's findings, the RCP is working to:

  • Ensure that doctors have protected time and flexibility to participate in research activities: 64% of doctors would be involved in research if they could, but they face barriers such as lack of time and funding. The RCP is supporting doctors’ participation in research through the Research engagement toolkit
  • Broaden the definition of research to capture all elements beyond high-level academic research: including quality improvement, system design, audit, biosciences and clinical trials. 
  • Promote a research-active medical workforce: patients receiving care in research-active institutions have better outcomes. All clinicians can and should become involved in research whether supporting recruitment to clinical trials, becoming a principle investigator or undertaking quality improvement work.

Championing research culture

Those already involved in research have an equal role to play in providing support to colleagues who want to be more involved. The RCP has published a series of blogs by academics and doctors about the value of research activities.

Research awards

The RCP and Clinical Research Network research awards recognise outstanding contributions of NHS clinicians to the conduct of National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network Portfolio studies.

What we have produced

This toolkit, produced by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), with support from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), aims to provide the information to physicians that will help you get engaged in research in lots of different ways.

Research is a team endeavour and is best cultivated through the strong relationships and positive culture.
The Research for all report draws on the findings of a 2015 UK survey exploring the current barriers to doctors’ engagement in medical research.
Simon Denegri, NIHR national director for patients and the public and chair for INVOLVE, calls for all research opportunities to be open and visible in the NHS.
The RCP wants to see the UK's access to EU funding for medical research continue after Brexit along with access to a fast and robust system for patients to access new treatments.
The RCP welcomes the opportunity to submit written evidence to this inquiry by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.