Cancer Research UK releases new report on giving NHS staff ‘Time for Research’

Cancer Research UK has released a new report entitled ‘Creating Time for Research’, which focuses on why giving NHS staff the capacity to conduct research is beneficial.

The report, created alongside the Centre for Health Service Studies (CHSS) at the University of Kent, highlights why time for research is ‘crucial’ to developing staff, improving quality of care and recovering from COVID-19.

Cancer Research outlines the complex barriers facing NHS staff who want to conduct research. As well as setting out aims and objectives, it provides case studies, and discusses methods, results and conclusions for its range of themes. The UK-wide study took a system-wide approach, with the scope encompassing public, charity and industry research funders, as well as national and professional bodies.

The report states that clinical research benefits:

  • the economy
  • patient healthcare and survival rates
  • staff job satisfaction and expertise
  • healthcare organisations’ service changes, staff recruitment and development.

It was found that ‘lack of time’ is NHS staff’s biggest barrier to research, with 64% of staff in ‘less research active organisations’ and 51% of staff in ‘more research active organisations’ both reporting it.

Other issues identified also include lack of funding, disparities in opportunities between regions, genders and ethnic groups, a lack of communication and organisational support and de-prioritisation of research.

The document suggests a response that includes:

  • providing time and resources
  • resolving disparities in research engagement
  • filling the gap between national strategy and local practice
  • strengthening the research culture
  • establishing accessible research career pathways
  •  demonstrating the benefits to patients.

Time for Research also highlights the experiences across different professions and specialities and provides suggestions for ‘targeted support’ and policy recommendations.

These cover areas such as a lack of confidence in research knowledge and skills and lack of sufficient training.

The report is endorsed by large organisations such as Alzheimer’s Research UK, the Royal College of Physicians, UK Research and Innovation, and the British Pharmacological Society.

Read the full report online here.