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Patients and society losing out through lack of investment in health research

By Irish Pharmacist - 04th Jun 2024

health research

The health system is failing the Irish public by not enabling research as part of healthcare, according to leaders in health research gathered in Dublin in May to mark the 10th anniversary of the Irish Health Research Forum. Embedding research in health services ensures patients receive the latest evidence-based care, attracts investment in clinical trials, results in more fulfilled healthcare staff, and delivers societal and economic benefits, attendees were told.

Under the stewardship of Health Research Charities Ireland, the Irish Health Research Forum regularly convenes all stakeholders to tackle pressing issues for health research. A consistent and resounding plea from attendees over many years has been for increased capital expenditure in research infrastructure. Despite this repeated call for action, Government investment in R&D, at just 0.29 per cent of GDP, is hugely below the EU average of 0.71 per cent, impeding Ireland’s ability to conduct world-class health research.

Dr Avril Kennan, CEO of HRCI, emphasised the importance of viewing research funding not as a cost, but as an investment with far-reaching benefits for the health and wellbeing of the Irish public and for the economy. “While Ireland boasts exceptional talent in the research community, the lack of adequate support from the State hampers our ability to drive quality research initiatives and prevents many healthcare staff from getting involved in research,” she remarked.

The Chair of the Irish Health Research Forum, Prof Mark White, added: “… We now have 10 years’ worth of valuable, consensus-based, system-centred reports and recommendations highlighting the difficulties of embedding research into the health ecosystem, but also suggesting innovative solutions. We can do this forever; however, the health system and the Government have got to rapidly shift from listening to actioning if we are not to fall further behind the rest of Europe.”

In conjunction with the 10th anniversary event, a special report titled Celebrating 10 Years of the Irish Health Research Forum has been released (https://hrci.ie/empower-innovate-transform-driving-the-future-of-health-research/). It delves into the transformative journey of health research in Ireland over the past decade, encapsulating key themes derived from previous Forum recommendations.

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