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NHS patients will benefit from £20 million investment into surgical research

24 Feb 2014

Patients will benefit from £20 million funding into research on new cutting-edge surgical techniques, the President of the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has said.

Professor Norman Williams, President of the RCS, said that lives will be saved thanks to government investment into new surgical research.

Funding worth £20 million has been agreed for 22 projects so far - ranging from analysing how robotics can be used to improve surgical outcomes - to looking at the long term benefits of gastric band surgery. Further projects are expected to be funded during 2014.

President of the Royal College of Surgeons Professor Norman Williams said:

“Investment in surgical techniques can revolutionise care for patients. We are delighted that the government is investing £20 million in a range of surgical research projects - from using robotics – to examining how we can improve treatment for breast cancer. These projects will help lead to the type of medical breakthroughs which save lives.

“People have on average four operations in their lifetime and yet, historically, only around 5 per cent of government funding for medical research has been spent on improving surgical techniques. We need to cultivate a research culture among surgeons and encourage the dissemination of pioneering ideas across the NHS.”

Professor Dame Sally C. Davies, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Health said:

“Surgery is fundamental to our healthcare with most of us needing some form of surgery during our lifetime. Common practice today was unimaginable only 20 years ago. It is vital we continue to provide new evidence on the application of new technology in this area in order to generate further and better developments for patients.”

In 2012, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) announced it was looking for research proposals on the evaluation of technology-driven implanted, or implantable medical devices, surgical procedures or surgical services.

The RCS worked closely with the NIHR to develop the teams required to deliver complex surgical studies. The success of this close collaboration is demonstrated in the quality and the diversity of the surgical studies that have been funded in the last 12 months - the largest ever given to clinical surgical research in a single year. It will be used to expand the surgical research base and will benefit patients for years to come.

There are a still funding opportunities available for researchers wishing to make bids for surgical research projects. The NIHR HTA Programme has three topics open in the area of surgery. Proposals can also be submitted at any-time to a number of NIHR’s research programmes through their researcher-led funding streams. All NIHR funding opportunities can be viewed at:

Notes to editors

The NIHR surgery ‘themed call’ (asking for proposals) ran from 23 February 2012 until 25 May 2012.

  • The ‘call’ was organised by the NIHR to increase research for new surgery techniques and to improve patient outcomes. The projects funded cover a wide range of surgical research areas, from robotics to joint replacements, and patient safety and quality of care.
  • Research will also be carried out into how surgical teams can best use high-tech‘da Vinci’ robots –devices controlled by a surgeon from a computer console - as a matter of routine.

For more information, please contact the RCS press office on:

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