The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) will spend an additional £30m a year to increase the number of nurses and midwives in research positions.
The government funded body aims to enable more healthcare professionals across England to include research in their careers.
Additional funding will help nurses, midwives, and other allied health professionals by strengthening existing opportunities to enter research positions, as well as expanding existing schemes and introducing new initiatives.
NIHR director of nursing and midwifery, Professor Ruth Endacott, said: ‘It is crucial that more healthcare professionals develop their academic skills and build careers that balance their clinical work with conducting research.’
Professor Endacott added that taking on research had been a ‘really exciting and satisfying’ aspect of her career and that she was pleased that more healthcare professionals would be offered the same opportunities.
While registered healthcare professionals such as nurses make up the single largest workforce in the NHS, according to NIHR, in 2017 clinical academics represented less than 0.1% of the nursing, midwifery and allied health professions.
Dr Joan Cooper, head of nursing research at NHS England said: ‘We know patients in research-active health and care settings have better outcomes and receive better care, which is why it’s so important that more nurses, midwives and other health care professionals have opportunities to lead, deliver and participate in research.
With the announcement of this funding NIHR and NHS England (NHSE) intend to collaborate to ‘overcome the barriers to research’ and increase awareness of research careers at early career stages.
Initiatives delivered with NHSE include providing more than 300 places a year for undergraduates to access NIHR’s new national engagement programme.
NIHR is also providing early career researchers with bursaries and more access to internship opportunities.
Additionally, NIHR and NHSE will create a new Clinical Research Leaders Programme for allied health professionals, to support programmes already established for nurses and midwives.
Professor Anne-Maree Keenan, associate dean for NIHR Academy, said that increased investment will ‘create a highly expanded community of research HCP to sit alongside the already established medical academic communities’.