New report into the UK’s funding for health research

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A landmark report into health research in the UK, which summarises health research funding from 146 public and charitable organisations, has been released. 

This report is the fourth in the UK Health Research Analysis reporting series; a UK-wide analysis of public and charity-funded health-relevant research, which provides the most detailed view so far of UK research in this area. The report covers almost £4.8 billion of spending within the UK in 2018 (another circa £4 billion is spent on health research in the UK every year by private pharmaceutical companies).

Research into cancer accounts for £483 million. Medical research charities spend twice as much on cancer research (66%) than non-charitable bodies (33%) (i.e. state agencies, professional bodies etc). Our 2016 funding report found that, for brain tumours, this figure was even more extreme with charities bearing 85% of the costs of funding research. 

This new report also finds that research into the basic biology and potential causes of disease has received a real-term increase in funding of £490 million since 2004. Spending on translational research (that aims to convert scientific discoveries into new treatments and healthcare benefits) has increased by £548m since 2004, with Government being a major funder.

In terms of geographical distribution, London received by far the most funding (31.8%). Scotland received 11.3%, Wales 2.4% and Northern Ireland 1%.

For brain tumours, financing basic scientific research will be key in improving outcomes for brain tumour patients and, one day, finding a cure. This report reveals that this type of research in the UK is largely supported by charitable/non-profit organisations, a fact that should weigh heavily on the minds of anyone who doesn’t give to charities because they believe government can be left to fund a cure.

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