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Table 1 Timeline of four phases of reform and main developments in English health research system since 1970

From: Who needs what from a national health research system:lessons from reforms to the English Department of Health's R&D system

Date Title or name of key document or reform
1971 Rothschild Report: The Organisation and Management of Government R&D:
Led to government departments such as the health department receiving some of the funds of research councils and becoming the customers for research conducted by their contractors.
1973 Concordat signed transferring some Medical Research Council funds to the English Department of Health's research division. Consultative committee structure created for policymakers and researchers.
1978 Rothschild reforms such as consultative committees began to be dismantled.
1988 House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology: Priorities in Medical Research.
1991 NHS R&D Programme: launched by Michael Peckham, first health department Director of R&D:
R&D programme established to meet the needs of NHS.
1992 UK Cochrane Centre established as part of the NHS R&D Programme's information systems' strategy. This inspired the international Cochrane Collaboration.
1993 NHS Health Technology Assessment programme established.
1994 Culyer Report made recommendations to increase the accountability and transparency of research funding in the NHS and to protect the major research and teaching hospitals
1999 NHS National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) established.
2002 Clinical Academic Medicine in Jeopardy Report published by the Academy of Medical Sciences to highlight the fears that academic medicine was becoming seen as a less attractive career
2004 UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) created by the English Department of Health and many other stakeholders to enhance clinical research
2004 Final report from Research for Patient Benefit Working Party endorsed the creation of the UKCRC as a key part of developing a clinical research infrastructure embedded in the NHS,
2005 'Best Research for Best Health' consultative document led to a series of reforms introduced between 2006-9:
Comprehensive set of proposals aimed at meeting the needs of patients and other stakeholders
2006 Best Research for Best Health strategy document outlined the reforms to be introduced following the consultation to create the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Key features included:: building on the developing clinical research networks, raising the status of clinical researchers, introducing new funding programmes and centres to complement existing programmes such HTA programme.
2007 The first (of now 12) Biomedical Research Centres announced to support a critical mass of leading researchers in NHS/university partnerships that are driving innovation
2008 First 100 members of new NIHR College of Senior Investigators appointed thus raising status of clinical researchers and academic medicine
2009 NIHR Progress Report described how the Best Research for Best Health strategy is being comprehensively delivered by working across the NHS and with patients, health research academic institutions and industry.
2006 Cooksey Review:
Review of all publicly funded health research: endorsed Best Research for Best Health reforms, emphasised industry's needs and the importance of translational research, recommended creation of Office of Strategic Coordination of Health Research (OSCHR).
2007 OSCHR established as recommended. It integrated public expenditure bids from the English Department of Health (for the NIHR) and the business department (for the MRC) and, based on their success, achieved a record funding increase for health research. A Translational Medicine Board set up to work with MRC and NIHR to develop a fully aligned approach in translational research.