The Prime Minister Gordon Brown has hailed the 'remarkable progress' of the UK's clinical research in the past decade as he set-out plans to keep up the pace.

Writing in a report on the progress of the first two years of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Mr Brown said NIHR's contined success would be underpinned by an “unprecedented” £17 billion in Government funding over the next decade. NIHR’s Transforming Health Research: the first two years report outlines progress against the UK's five-year strategy which it launched in January 2006.

The report highlights the clinical research networks set up to support clinical trials in England, which have boosted the numbers taking part in clinical trials, as well as underlining NIHR's work for cancer research, which has helped the UK become world leader in per capita cancer trial participation.

It also commends the work of the UK Clinical Research Network's Industry Team which it says has eased collaborative research, leading to as many as 234 trials being actively discussed. Writing in the report, Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said: “In the first 18 months, 78 industry-sponsored trials have been adopted by the Government’s new clinical research networks for important areas of public health. These include cancer, brain disease, mental health, stroke, diabetes, children’s medicines and primary care. Some 104 companies are involved in these new arrangements, and 200 more trials are currently being discussed and assessed.”

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council commended the NIHR for transforming the research environment in the NHS. He said: "The NIHR has channelled ever greater investment into expanding programmes of research, and provided funding to support innovative technologies and improved facilities and equipment in the NHS. It is streamlining research processes to ensure this country remains the place of choice for the pharmaceutical, bioscience and healthcare industries R&D." As the report was launched, the Department of Health announced it will roll out a new section of the NHS Choices website to offer information to patients and the public on how to get involved in clinical trials.By Rob Finch