How does the outcome of research training fellowships funded via the NHS compare with that from competitively funded fellowships from the MRC and other charities: a cross-sectional retrospective survey of trainees undertaking research training in the West Midlands

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Objectives: This study aimed to investigate the impact of research training funded via the National Health Service (NHS) on medical trainees compared with traditional clinical research training fellowships (CRTFs).

Design, setting and participants: Online survey of 221 clinical trainees who had completed a period of research during their clinical training between 2009 and 2015 in the West Midlands.

Main outcome measures: Research outcomes.

Results: Overall response rate was 59%, of whom 72 participants were funded by CRTFs and 51 funded by the NHS. Although participants with CRTFs were more likely to be awarded a higher degree compared with those on NHS-administered funding (66/72 CRTFs and 37/51 NHS, P=0.005), similar proportions of NHS-funded and CRTF-funded participants entered clinical lecturer posts on completing initial research training (8/51 NHS and 16/72 CRTF, P=0.37). 77% of participants had three or more publications (CRTF 57 and NHS 39, P=0.72). 57 participants had completed clinical training; similar proportions of CRTF-funded and NHS-funded trainees had research included in their consultant contract (12/22 NHS and 14/26 CRTF, P=0.96) or were appointed to academic posts (3 of 25 NHS funded and 6 of 32 CRTF, P>0.05). 95% of participants would recommend to colleagues and 82% of participants felt the research experience improved their provision of clinical care with no difference between CRTF-funded and NHS-funded participants (P=0.49). Continuing to participate in clinical work during the research reduced reports of trainee difficulty on returning to clinical work (23/108 continued clinical work vs 12/22 no clinical work, P=0.001).

Conclusion: Research training funded by the NHS provides a quality experience and contributes to the clinical academic capacity within the UK. More needs to be done to support NHS participants to successfully achieve a higher degree.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere019630
JournalBMJ open
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018