COLLABORATION. The spring’s excellent ALF evaluation has now resulted in an extra SEK 20 million for clinical research in Västra Götaland. Sahlgrenska Academy and Sahlgrenska University Hospital will now use these funds for joint strategic investments in areas that the Swedish Research Council’s evaluation identified as needing strengthening.
In March 2018 the Swedish Research Council released its report on its evaluation of clinical research at the county councils and universities covered by the ALF agreement with the Swedish government. In general, Region Västra Götaland did very well in the evaluation. It received the highest marks in two of the three categories, resulting in the best total score from the evaluation and an increase in ALF funds.
Improving conditions for researchers
“The evaluation’s good results have resulted in an additional SEK 20 million for us beginning next year, which is very gratifying,” says Lars Grip, director of research, development, education and innovation at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.
“We have long been awarded good levels of ALF funds, almost SEK 500 million annually, and we are very pleased that we not only have retained this level of funding but have also been able to increase it somewhat. Our extraordinarily talented clinical researches are to thank for the additional funding, and it is also the result of the work we do with the help of ALF funds to strengthen clinical research and the conditions under which the researchers work.”
No dramatic changes
Henrik Hagberg, pro-dean at Sahlgrenska Academy, notes that the new investments the university and the region are now jointly making are not dramatic:
“You might say that we are plugging the holes that the Swedish Research Council’s evaluation pointed out. We came out very well in the evaluation, and we do not want to implement major changes. We choose to focus on areas in the reports where both the Swedish Research Council and the National Board of Health and Welfare indicated there is the potential for improvement so that we can perform even better in future evaluations.”
ALF stands for the Agreement for Medical Education and Research and regulates the Swedish government’s compensation to seven county councils in Sweden for the clinical-based training of medical students. ALF funds are the backbone of the cooperation among the region, university hospitals and medical faculties. The money is mainly used for clinical research and also to a lesser extent for education.
In Västra Götaland there is a very good mutual understanding between the region and the university about the best way to use ALF funds. After deliberation in the coordinating body, it became clear that the extra SEK 20 million can best be used in three areas highlighted in the evaluation this spring.
“We have broadly determined how the extra SEK 20 million will be used after deliberation in Medi-SAM and decisions in Hälso-SAM. Details, such as the exact amounts and the dates for the calls for proposals, remain to be decided,” says Hagberg.
The three areas to be strengthened with the additional ALF funds are:
- Clinical treatment research
Support for clinical researchers who want to carry out important randomized, controlled studies or treatment studies. The studies can include implementation studies, such as if circumstances permit implementing new treatments developed through research in countries other than Sweden.
- Doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers in administrations other than Sahlgrenska University Hospital (SU), especially in primary health care
The initiative has been created especially with primary health care in mind because the Swedish Research Council’s review cited primary care as an area in which clinical research needs to be strengthened. The call for proposals will be open to employees in administrations other than SU within the region, such as regional hospitals.
- Support for researchers whose basic profession is not that of a medical doctor
People in other health science professions who have succeeded in obtaining a project grant with ALF funds can also receive combination position grants through this initiative. ALF positions at the doctoral student level and for postgraduate researchers who are not medical doctors will be introduced. Announcement of ALF positions for registered health care professions will be made soon. The initiative is being implemented as a pilot project to assess the needs and opportunities for clinical research among professional groups.
This proposal has been developed in Medi-SAM, the joint body of Sahlgrenska Academy and Sahlgrenska University Hospital, and the main focus has subsequently been determined in the Hälso-SAM decision-making body. The exact levels of the different investments and the dates for the announcement of the calls for proposals have not yet been decided.
Additional reading (in Swedish) about ALF in Västra Götaland on the Web: http://www.alfvastragotaland.se/
TEXT: ELIN LINDSTRÖM CLAESSEN