The British Medical Association has expressed concerns about a possible shortfall in funding for research, after chancellor Gordon Brown formally announced the creation of a new body to oversee the merged research budgets of the NHS and the Medical Research Council.

The British Medical Association has expressed concerns about a possible shortfall in funding for research, after chancellor Gordon Brown formally announced the creation of a new body to oversee the merged research budgets of the NHS and the Medical Research Council.

With a budget of over£1bn, the Office for Strategic Co-ordination of Health Research (OSCHR), led by Professor John Bell, who is also president of the Academy of Medical Sciences, will pool the talents of universities, institutes, pharmaceutical companies and the NHS in an effort to streamline funding for research initiatives.

But BMA medical academic staff committee chair Professor Michael Rees said that while the chancellor promised 'over'£1bn a year for the OSCHR, the combined value of medical research funding over 2007-08 was£1.3bn.

He said: 'We are pleased that research budgets will be ringfenced. However, medical researchers need to be confident that baseline funding will not be eroded by the new fund.

'We have significant concerns about the possibility of the merger, resulting in medical research being worse off by hundreds of millions of pounds.'