Announcement: £135m for Cutting Edge Health Research

Investing in cutting-edge research will unlock the answers to our biggest health challenges

The NHS has just celebrated its 71st birthday and I, like so many others, have many reasons to be grateful for what it has achieved over recent decades.

Astonishing advances in medicine and pioneering breakthroughs in technology have transformed the way we live and allowed us to save the lives of more patients than ever before.

We should be incredibly proud the UK has always led the way in groundbreaking research and development - from the discovery of penicillin to the invention of DNA sequencing - and I am determined we continue to be at the forefront of the latest developments.

That’s why this week I announced the Government is investing £135 million, via the National Institute for Health Research, to fund more research into some of the biggest healthcare challenges facing our society - including obesity, dementia and mental health.

This funding will see those with frontline experience in the NHS join forces with our country’s top researchers, leading innovators and local authorities to find more and better solutions to address growing demands on the NHS and give patients greater independence and choice about how they manage their healthcare.

Obesity, dementia and mental health are some of the biggest challenges facing our growing and ageing population but thanks to some of the greatest minds in our society, we have the potential to unlock the breakthroughs we need now, to transform care in the future.

We know this money will be well spent because previous projects funded in this way have led to real insights improving care for patients now. Research in South London clearly demonstrated better outcomes when mothers and babies were cared for by the same midwife throughout pregnancy and birth. This is why our Long Term Plan is committed to every woman receiving care from the same midwife during pregnancy, birth and postnatally by 2021. It’s because of research we funded which proves just what a difference it makes.

A CRASH2 study funded through the NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme meanwhile has shown that, tranexamic acid (TXA) can reduce the risk of death from bleeding by as much as 30 percent. It is now used by all emergency ambulance services across England now carry TXA, saving an estimated 400 lives a year in the UK.

The newly boosted Accelerated Access Collaborative is designed to work hand in glove with this new research investment by identifying the best newly developed medicines, diagnostic tools and digital services and driving them through development and approval more quickly, so patients can benefit from products for conditions including cancer, dementia and diabetes up to four years faster.

As someone who has lived with a genetic condition and relies on the NHS to keep me well, I know all too well the game-changing power of research to transform how we treat some of the most challenging conditions.

It is no accident that the UK continues to be at the forefront of these ‘modern-day miracles’ and the funding committed today has the potential to change the lives of thousands of people for the better.

Nicola Blackwood