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 2019, RCP published Delivering research for all . This statement, endorsed by 16 other organisations, sets out our view that high-quality research in the NHS is everyone’s responsibility and a core part of clinical care.

  • The impetus for more research in the NHS has never been greater. Research-active trusts boost outcomes for patients, and the Care Quality Commission includes clinical research activity in trust inspections.
  • Doctors hugely value research as an important part of their job, but are hampered by a lack of protected time for patient-facing research. Almost two thirds of doctors say they want to do more research.
  • There is large regional variation in research activity. The NHS needs to realise opportunities to align populations, research and workforce.
  • Embedding “protected time” must be a key priority. Maintaining medical research funding, involving patients in research design, improving R&D departments and access to research skills are also vital.

The statement follows the 2016 RCP report, Research for All. As a result of the report’s findings, we said that we would

  • ensure that doctors have protected time and flexibility to participate in research activities
  • 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.

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. 

What we have produced

Delivering research for all is a new project supported by the RCP that is calling for every clinician working in the NHS to become research active.

The Research engagement toolkit, produced by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) with support from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), has been created 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.
The NHS must ensure that patient care remains at the heart of the Brexit negotiations to ensure that UK patients can continue to access the latest treatments.