National research context

Blood sample vials

We have a central role in England's health and care research landscape and we work alongside others who have an overarching aim to strengthen health research in the UK. 

Each UK nation has its own government department that oversees health and care research:

  • The National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR) is the Welsh Government body that develops, in consultation with partners, strategy and policy for research in the NHS and social care in Wales.
  • The Chief Scientist Office (CSO), part of the Scottish Government's Health and Social Care Directorate, supports and promotes high quality research aimed at improving the quality and cost-effectiveness of services offered by NHS Scotland and securing lasting improvements to the health of the people of Scotland.
  • The Health and Social Care Public Health Agency (HSC PHA) is the major regional organisation for health protection with a mandate to protect public health, improve public health and social wellbeing, and reduce inequalities in health and social wellbeing.
  • The Department of Health (DH) in England funds a Policy Research Programme to provide the evidence-base for robust policy development, as well as funding health and care research through the NIHR. Successive Governments, since 2010, have continued to confirm their commitment to our health and care remit by protecting our budget.

The DH Arm's Length Bodies (ALBs) include a range of organisations, such as NHS England, Public Health England, Higher Education England and regulatory bodies, each with specific responsibilities that relate to health, public health and social care research. The NHS is committed, through the NHS Constitution, to the promotion, conduct and use of research to improve the current and future health and care of the population.  

The Government's Office for Life Sciences champions research, innovation and the use of technology to transform health and care service. It published the government’s Strategy for the UK life sciences industry, 2011, with the ambition that the UK will become the global hub for life sciences research in the future and a key contributor to sustained economic growth, referencing the broad underpinning role the NIHR has in delivering this ambition.  

Each year the Research Councils invest around £3 billion in research covering the full spectrum of academic disciplines from the medical and biological sciences. We work closely with the Medical Research Council in a number of areas including jointly funding the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation and Methodology Research Programmes as well as important facilities in the NHS including the National Phenome Centre. We also jointly fund programmes of research with the Economic and Social Research Council including the recent £20 million investment for research on living well with dementia.  

The independent Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research (OSCHR), works across the full range of national governments and relevant government departments, and health and care research funders to address the barriers to research collaboration and to support the application and translation of basic research into patient care and economic benefit.