In the financial year 1976-77 over £220 million was spent on health care research in the United Kingdom. Taking account of recent expenditure growth and making an allowance for less readily identifiable contributions it may be estimated that total health care research spending is currently approaching the £300 million mark. In real terms this is an almost twofold increase on the £80 million (£172 million at 1976 prices) recorded at the beginning of the decade.

Health care research embraces a diverse range of activities including, for example, fundamental attempts to achieve a better understanding of disease processes, studies of the health care delivery system and the development of specific new medicines. It is estimated that the industry as a whole currently allocates approximately 10 per cent of the value of its total home and foreign sales to this activity (that is, 25 per cent of NHS sales value at manufacturers’ prices).

The work of the charitable bodies as a whole has contributed significantly to patient welfare as well as to the supply of funds for research and recent efforts are particularly impressive in view of the general recession being experienced by the British economy.