A new strategy will boost the nursing contribution to research and development. Claire Sanders reports
The funding council has agreed to end the anomaly that was crippling both nursing research and research by professions allied to medicine (Pams).
This week, the Higher Education Funding Council for England said the research assessment exercise would take into account the number of staff carrying out research in these areas and would fund them accordingly.
The anomaly was created when the funding of nursing and Pams undergraduate courses was transferred from Hefce to the National Health Service through the Non-Medical Education and Training Levy.
A funding council spokesman said: "When the original Nmet funding transfer took place, the reasoning behind the fact that research funding was not included was that the NHS was purchasing undergraduate teaching, not research."
The spokesman said that including NHS-funded university employees would encourage links between teaching and research and support the movement of research into service delivery.
Eileen Martin, dean of the faculty of health at the University of Central Lancashire and chair of the council of deans and heads for UK facilities of nursing, midwifery and health visiting, said: "It is vital that the capacity for nursing research is built up."
The announcement follows the publication of a new strategy for nursing research and development by Sarah Mullally, the chief nursing officer, and John Pattison, director of research and development at the Department of Health. An advisory group is to be set up to carry forward its recommendations.
The strategy says: "Previous attempts to boost the nursing contribution to research and development have failed to deliver because they have not been adequately funded, properly managed or sustained for long enough."
The strategy argues that there are too few nurse researchers and too few nurses in practice who are sufficiently research-aware. It says that the capacity and capability that does exist is not properly harnessed.
Nurses wishing to undertake research should be offered better training and more flexible career paths. Many of the remedies suggested for nursing will apply to other health professions, the strategy says.
The strategy calls for greater collaboration with funding bodies and argues that NHS reorganisation should open the way for better coordination and funding.
"The establishment of the new nurse, midwife and health visitor consultant posts in the NHS, the proposals for NHS pay reform set out in Agenda for Change and the potential to review the education and training levies, as described in A Health Service of all the Talents , combine to provide a significant opportunity to think afresh about these issues," it says.