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Professor gives health research warning.

Byline: By Madeleine Brindley Western Mail

Patients are suffering because of a lack of NHS-funded research in Wales, a leading academic warns today. Wales receives just 1.6% of all available NHS research funding in the UK - five times less per person than Scotland and half as much as England.

Professor Nick Craddock, a professor of psychiatry at Cardiff University, said that devolution has made the funding allocations worse.

The disparity between Wales and the rest of the UK - highlighted by the UK Clinical Research Collaboration figures - could mean that patients are not only missing out on new forms of treatment, but that they are not benefiting from the latest developments in health services and best examples of care itself.

And there are fears that unless the balance is restored, Wales could lose some of its best researchers to other, better-funded parts of the UK.

Prof Craddock says, 'Wales is disadvantaged by major under-investment.

'This lack of funding for health research and development in Wales is bad for our patients, bad for our health service, bad for our academic institutions and bad for our economy.

'If steps are not taken things will continue to deteriorate in relation to the rest of the UK, which is likely to result in the best of our researchers and health professionals moving out of Wales.'

Prof Craddock's comments, which will be made at today's inaugural meeting of the Mental Health Research Network Cymru, come after Chancellor Gordon Brown has pinpointed biomedical research as a major driver of the UK economy.

But Prof Craddock said that if the Chancellor is correct, Wales looks set to be at a major disadvantage compared with the rest of the UK, unless the balance is restored.

Many studies involve centres in England and Wales, in a bid to achieve a large mass of patients and participants.

But Prof Craddock says that Wales is even missing out on these, because of a lack of funding.

He says, 'Wales has been unable to participate in an important study of severe mental illness in teenagers and young adults that is being undertaken at eight centres in England, which is funded by the Department of Health and the Medical Research Council.

'Those leading the study are keen for one or more centres in Wales to be involved and there are health researchers in Wales who have the expertise and willingness to join the study.

'However, there is no mechanism in Wales to provide funding support to allow this.

'This disadvantages our patients, our services and our researchers.'

A spokesman for the Welsh Assembly Government said that the figures from the UK Clinical Research Collaboration do not accurately reflect all Assembly Government support for research, such as investment in infrastructure, and funding provided by NHS trusts to support research.

He said, 'The Clinical Research Collaboration for Wales, backed by pounds 4.5m from the Assembly Government, is specifically designed to increase the quality and quantity of clinical trials and other well-designed research studies in


'Central to this was the funding of specific research networks to stimulate research and support grant capture in a variety of priority areas.

'The collaboration will enable Wales to play a full part in research and clinical trials offered by the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, which has established six specific research networks.

'It has recently been strengthened by the commissioning of two trials units based in Cardiff and Bangor to help with the design, conduct and analysis of clinical trials and other studies.'
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 18, 2006
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