The streamlining of National Health Service research money into a single funding channel, as recommended in a major report last month, will have to be a "broad brush" exercise because of the complexities of present funding, Michael Peckman, director of research and development in the NHS, has said. It is proving difficult even to identify the cash that flows into research via the NHS.
The Culyer report on research and development in the NHS called for the many streams of funding to be put together and simplified. But Professor Peckham said this week: "I don't underestimate the difficulty of doing this. But we definitely need to make the attempt."
Giving evidence to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, Professor Peckham said that academics and those in the NHS would have to help in the effort to identify research funds.
The Government will announce soon how it will fulfil its immediate promise to ring-fence next year's research money, he said.
The Government is also holding discussions with the Medical Research Council, industry and charities about the setting up of a national forum as proposed in the Culyer report: "I would like to see it set up in the first half of 1995," said Professor Peckham. "The value of it is to understand what the funding strategies of bodies are, identifying emerging technologies, looking at career structures."
The NHS's revamped Central Research and Development Committee, which should appear early next year, will advise on how the budget should be used to support national, regional and local research. It will represent research interests, but not all research organisations.