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Strategy for HSC R&D

On Thursday 11 February 2016 the Health Minister Simon Hamilton published the new research and development (R&D) strategy for the Health and Social Care (HSC) sector.

With investment of over £10million annually, the new strategy aims to enhance the health, wellbeing and prosperity of people in Northern Ireland through world renowned research and development.

During his visit to meet the staff at Northern Ireland Regional Virus Laboratory and HSC Innovations at the Royal Victoria Hospital the Minister commented:

“The priority I give to R&D and innovation in the public sector generally and the health sector specifically is no secret and I want to congratulate the staff at the Regional Virus Laboratory and HSC Innovations for the work they have carried out recently in developing and licensing a rapid test for a severe form of bacterial meningitis. There is no doubt that this research has the potential to reduce morbidity and mortality by facilitating early diagnosis and treatment. 

"It is particularly appropriate therefore that I am announcing the launch of the new Health and Social Care Research and Development strategy during my visit today.”

Outlining his priorities for research funding in the coming years the Minister said:

“Northern Ireland is internationally acknowledged as a leader in many areas of health and healthcare related research. We only have to look at recent advances in research into the treatment of pancreatic cancer and cystic fibrosis as examples. Northern Ireland researchers also lead many clinical intervention trials in critical care and ophthalmology and our expertise in nutrition and food research is widely acknowledged. Recognition of Northern Ireland as a centre of excellence for research into precision medicine across the UK also enhances our standing while the innovative work of the Northern Ireland Genomic Medicine Centre will continue to build our reputation internationally.”

The strategy aims to build on the success of its predecessor, strengthening links between research and better policy making, increasing success in competing for additional funding, enhancing our research infrastructure and effectively communicating the findings. Independent evaluation of the impact of previous investment in this area has highlighted significant benefits, including:

An estimated £4.14 additional funding attracted to research per £1 of HSC R&D funding allocated; Support of 1.3 jobs per project funded; High quality peer reviewed publications; High quality posts secured by clinical and academic research staff; and Creating opportunities to attract additional funding through direct partnerships with other funders.

The Minister continued:

“I welcome the strong emphasis on innovation throughout the strategy, for example in support of the establishment of a Northern Ireland Health Innovation and Life Sciences Hub and equally support being given to key national initiatives such as the 100,000 Genomes Project. This is why I have used today’s visit to the Health and Social Care Innovations Service at the RVH to make this announcement. 

"This new strategy will enable our researchers to continue to develop novel diagnostics, treatments and care pathways that will bring benefits to patients and service users across Northern Ireland.”

Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive of the Public Health Agency (PHA), attending the launch, commented:

“I am delighted to see this innovative example of how support from the PHA’s HSC Research and Development Division can help transform and save lives. With the possibility of earlier diagnoses comes the ability to start much earlier vital interventions in treating people which will undoubtedly help contribute to a much healthier population. 

"We are fully committed to supporting research throughout health and social care and look forward to seeing further innovations come to fruition as the PHA begins to deliver the strategy’s implementation plan."

The Strategy and Implementation plan are available on the Department Of Health, Social Services and Public Safety Website at:

Pictured at the launch of the HSC R&D Strategy were, from left, Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive, Public Health Agency (PHA); Dr Janice Bailie, Assistant Director, HSC R&D Division, PHA; Simon Hamilton, Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety;  Dr David Brownlee, Innovation Advisor, HSC Innovations; Dr Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer.