European health research 2001

Note: This is an updated (June 2001) version of our 1997 resolution


Whereas: To provide comprehensive cost-effective health services poses many problems in all EU member states.

The EU’s 6th ‘Research Framework Programme (for 2002-2006, with a 17.5 billion budget is now being finalized. It Provides generous support for some forms of health research: but it abolishes Provision for Health Services Research.

(1) A British Commission recommended the establishment of an “Institute Of HSR ” linked to the ESRC to promote and co-ordinate competent research on health services. A European Parliament motion “On the need for a European Institute Of HSR was referred to the EP’s “committee on Energy Research & Technology”, which took no further action. A Labour Party conference resolution urged that the EU’s Research Framework Programme should also Provide for research on “Problems of society, management and government”, including “co-ordinated impartial research on … the health and social services”. In 1992 The Commission had intended to give, “particular attention to research on health services” but it failed to make this a priority, and is now about to demolish it. Most subjects relevant to HSR belong to the social and management sciences. These belong to the new programme’s Thematic Area 7 “Citizens and Governance” The final version of the research programme will have to be negotiated by the EU’s Research Council. Britain is represented by the Science Minister.

We thus urge that:

1. The theme “Health Services Research” (HSR) shall be reinstated in the EU’s 6th Research Framework Programme. It could be accommodated in the thematic area 7, which might be renamed “Citizenship, Governance, Management and Health Services Research.

2. A coordinated, cost-effective HSR programme should include: (a) monitoring the functioning of the state health Services in all member states, with a view to identifying best practice and diagnosing any inadequacy or inefficiency: b) Assessing,” the potentialities and cost benefit implications of the development of the paramedical professions, and their relationship with relevant medical specialties; (c) making an impartial assessment of the requirements of client protection, performance appraisal and standards of qualification in special problem areas such as psychotherapy (d) making impartial assessments of funding needs (e) Identifying any other special problems or controversies requiring more detailed research (f) Exploring how such research can be organized to ensure independence from vested interests in the health service professions, yet make use of all relevant expertise.

3. The programme should also promote the training of HSR researchers in relevant techniques of the social and management sciences. One of the Institutes of the EU’s Joint Research Centre, one of the Parliament’s committees and one of EcSoC’s sections should include Social, Management, Governance and Health Services Research among their formal responsibilities.