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Impact of HSC R&D Division funding


Relevant literature demonstrates a need to continue to build up health sector R&D, its overall importance to the economy and the key role that R&D plays in the planning and delivery of health and social services.



An independent review of the value of HSC Research and Development (R&D) investment in health and social care research in Northern Ireland (NI) was commissioned by Department of Health (NI) (formly Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS)) in 2012.

RSM McClure Watters were appointed to undertake this evaluation.

The review, entitled Evaluation of the Impact of HSC R&D Funding in NI, Including Benchmarking with other Countries, found that the amount of funding leveraged into NI was £4.14 for every £1 invested in health and social care research. In addition, the independent review showed that for every research project funded, an average of 1.3 jobs was created. These are high-value jobs, representing an overall benefit to the NI economy.

However the review also noted that the total health and social care R&D budget is significantly less in Northern Ireland per capita than the rest of the UK. Even at its peak in 2008 the total HSC R&D budget in Northern Ireland equated to around £7.63 per capita, less than 50% of what is available in England (an estimated £15.12). In Scotland and Wales the level of R&D funding per capita is estimated to be in the region of £12.23 and £14.38 respectively. Whilst the standard of support and quality assurance provided by the HSC R&D Division staff was generally well regarded, the low level of funding available was a significant issue amongst those consulted. Many Principal Investigators (PIs) noted that their research activities were restricted due the lack of access to large funding initiative in the UK. 

Based on this evidence, in July 2012, the NI Health Minister announced a research and development funding commitment in the form of an annual contribution of approximately £3 million (variable annual investment for five years) to the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Evaluations, Trials and Studies (NETS) funding pot. The investment enables NI-based researchers to lead on applications to NETS research programmes alongside their colleagues from the other United Kingdom (UK) nations.

The review also reported that there was a general perception among those who were consulted within the HSC Trusts that the Trust working culture could be more conducive to the performance of high quality research. This was evidenced by a number of factors, including the absence of a requirement for local HSC Trusts to report (to HSC Board or DHSSPS) on their R&D activities. This is also related to the finding that a number of consultees felt that R&D within the health and social care sector in Northern Ireland needed an increase in profile.  

The review was published in 2012. You can download a copy here>


External Evaluation of HSC R&D Division Research Programmes

Evaluation of the Dementia Care Research Programme

Partnership funding for the Dementia Research Programme from The Atlantic Philanthropies included costs for an external evaluation.

The purpose is to evaluate the:

  • Process for identifying research priorities in Northern Ireland to inform the research topics;
  • Organisation of the call for proposals and award process;
  • Inter-disciplinary and inter-sectoral relationships developed as a result of joint research projects;
  • Capacity built to continue applied dementia care research in NI and attract alternative funding;
  • Perceived quality and breadth of dissemination activity; and
  • Degree to which the findings of research projects have influenced dementia care and support services delivered by Government and have the potential for future influence.

Following a procurement exercise, PACEC was commissioned by AP and HSC Research and Development Division to conduct this evaluation over the next 4 years. The evaluation commenced in May 2015 and the first report is now available.