Biomedical & health careers

The UK's status as a medical research world leader is underpinned by its workforce. We want to see the next generation of biomedical and health researchers navigate a clear career path with the right funding opportunities.

The NHS is uniquely placed to be the engine of health research.

“COVID-19 demonstrated how vital research is to the NHS and showed what can be achieved when it is prioritised, highlighting how research must be a core activity for the NHS.” ~ Academy President

Discoveries from NHS research include which drugs do and don't work as treatments for COVID-19, development of penicillin, the invention of MRI scanners, the development of in vitro fertilisation, DNA sequencing and the immunological advances behind organ transplantation. When the NHS turned 70, we celebrated the impact of NHS research and how to realise the vast potential of the NHS for research in the future.

But even before COVID-19, our January 2020 report raised the alarm about NHS staff struggling to find time for research. Only 0.4% of GPs and 0.1% of nursing and midwifery professionals had research as part of their role in 2017. Our report set out a powerful vision to make sure scientific discoveries continue to boost the NHS and improve patient care.

"Protecting and strengthening research is a win-win situation for patients, the NHS, universities and our economy. There is increasing evidence that shows that patients treated in research-active hospitals get better quality of care, even if they are not taking part in a research project." ~ Academy President

In 2022 we also marked the passing of the Health and Care Act. We have worked hard to ensure this Act recognised research as essential to improving the care of patients in the NHS, rather than as an add-on. 

“I am delighted to see that our efforts can be seen in the new Act, as now leaders within the NHS are required to ‘actively facilitate’ or otherwise promote research. Integrated Care Boards – organisations with responsibility for NHS functions and budgets – and NHS England will now have to lay out how they plan to promote research, and report on their efforts. 

“I am however disappointed that the Act does not include a mandate for the regular publication of current and future NHS staff numbers as this data would help us to plan for the future health and social care workforce, something that the biomedical research community will continue to call for.” ~ Academy President

In 2022, we also responded to the General Medical Council’s (GMC) consultation on their proposed changes to Good Medical Practice. We advocated for GMC’s recognition of the vital role of research in patient care to be maintained in the final version of these professional standards, which will come into effect in January 2024. GMC have a position statement recognising the importance of research for patients and the wider public, and have collaborated with the Conference Of Postgraduate Medical Deans via a UK joint working group to promote research for all.

Clinical academia

In January 2023, the House of Lords’ Science and Technology Committee concluded their inquiry into Clinical academics in the NHS and wrote to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care with eleven recommendations. The Committee concluded that engagement with research in the NHS can help to mitigate workforce challenges and improve patient outcomes. 

The Academy’s Vice-President Clinical, Professor Paul Stewart FMedSci, was invited to give oral evidence to the inquiry, which the Academy supported with a written evidence submission. We evidenced the invaluable asset of clinical research in the UK and highlighted that, while clinical academic careers are attractive and highly sought after, there are critical issues that must be addressed for us to maintain the excellent benefits of clinical research. 

Key contacts

Supporting environmental sustainability in biomedical research

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2024 FORUM Sir Colin Dollery Lecture: Health research where you are – from GP to care home

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Mentoring Masterclass - June 2024

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