Government should spend more on medical research - charity group

HSE should appoint ‘research tsar’, says Medical Research Charities Group

Clinical research ‘needs to be at the core of our health services’, says Medical Research Charities Group

Clinical research ‘needs to be at the core of our health services’, says Medical Research Charities Group

 

The Government must spend more on medical research to ensure patients receive the best care possible, a grouping of charities has said in a manifesto document.

The Medical Research Charities Group represents 33 charities involved in raising funds in support of research.

The group wants all political parties to pledge to make medical research a key priority in advance of next spring’s general election.

The group launched its Manifesto for Medical Research in Dublin on Thursday morning. It calls for a range of improvements with increased funding for medical research first on the list.

Without significant investment “Irish patients will be left at a serious disadvantage”, said the group’s chairman Philip Watt.

They would be “left in the slow lane” when it comes to accessing therapies in the early stages of development, he said.

The group also calls for the appointment of a “research tsar” based in the HSE responsible for championing research across the heath services.

Another key request is for the development of “national patient disease registries” similar to the current cancer and cystic fibrosis registries.

These would provide important follow-on data on patient health and survival and lead to improved patient services, the group said.

Other requests include:

* A streamlined process for the approval of emerging therapies

* The urgent passage through the Oireachtas of the human tissue and the patient safety bills

* A national policy on the future of genetic services which will support medical treatments and counselling

* The implementation of the rare disease plan first launched in July 2014

Clinical research “needs to be at the core of our health services”, said Mr Watt who is chief executive officer of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland.

Only a small fraction of overall health expenditure in Ireland goes into research.

Ireland applies about 0.25 per cent of total medical expenditure on research. The comparable figure in the UK is 1.6 per cent, Mr Watt said.

Lack of a strong foundation of research also causes young researchers to look for better opportunities abroad, the group said.

“Our research capacity is being damaged severely through being starved of resources and funding,” said Dr David McConnell, fellow emeritus in genetics at Trinity College Dublin who spoke at the group’s event.

Clinical trials in Ireland should be “a routine aspect of care”, said Dr Ray McDermott, a consultant medical oncologist at Tallaght Hospital and St Vincent’s University Hospital.