The British Medical Association has expressed serious concern that a Treasury-driven shake-up of medical research could lead to a £300m drop in research funding.
The British Medical Association has expressed serious concern that a Treasury-driven shake-up of medical research could lead to a£300m drop in research funding.
BMA academic staff committee chair Professor Michael Rees has expressed concern about a review ordered by chancellor Gordon Brown, which is examining whether all the funds currently split between the Medical Research Council and NHS research budgets should be placed in a pooled fund in the future.
After the Treasury appointed Sir David Lipsey to lead a review on the best institutional arrangements to back the fund last March, it said that 'at least£1bn' should go into the single budget for research.
In the same statement it said the review would examine whether the combined spend of the MRC and NHS research and development - which will amount to£1.3bn by 2007-08 - should go into this fund, or whether some parts of it should be put under the control of individual departments.
Professor Rees said the BMA was now seeking 'urgent clarification' about what he described as an 'apparent drop in funding'.
'Health research is vital to patient care and the development of new treatments, as well as providing economic benefits. There is no way it should be diminished - especially not by£300m.'
Professor Rees said there is already anecdotal evidence of pressure on research funding including 'cash-strapped' NHS trusts being tempted to raid research budgets to help recover deficits.
'It would be disastrous if the merger led to a reduction in investment in applied research,' he said.
Sir David's report is due to be delivered in the autumn before the pre-budget report.
A Treasury spokesman would not comment on the allegation that central funding was likely to be reduced.