National research context

We have a central role in England's health and care research landscape and we work alongside other organisations that 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:

  • Health and Care Research Wales is a national, multi-faceted, virtual organisation funded and overseen by the Welsh Government’s Research and Development Division. It provides an infrastructure to support and increase capacity in research and development (R&D), runs a range of responsive funding schemes and manages the NHS R&D funding allocation for 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 and Social Care 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. We also support internationally outstanding applied health research which addresses issues affecting the poorest and most vulnerable people in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) through the NIHR Global Health Research programme, using Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding. Successive Governments, since 2010, have continued to confirm their commitment to our health and care remit by protecting our budget.

The Department of Health and Social Care's 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. UK Research and Innovation now brings together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England.  We work closely with the Medical Research Council in a number of areas including jointly funding the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation and Methodology Research. We also jointly fund programmes of research with the Economic and Social Research Council including 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.