Healthcare law specialist appointed chairman of Health Research Authority

New role will protect patients while simplifying regulatory practice

Professor Jonathan Montgomery has been named as the chairman of the Health Research Authority.

Currently a professor of healthcare law at the University of Southampton, chairman of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, and chairman of NHS Hampshire primary care trust (PCT), he will head up the new organisation that will protect and promote the interests of patients and the public in health research, building confidence while simplifying regulatory practice.

Following the announcement Professor Montgomery has outlined his plans to withdraw from his role at the PCT as soon as handover arrangements have been agreed.

Commenting on the role, Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, said: “Professor Montgomery is a leading expert in healthcare law, genetics and bioethics, and in addition he has an indepth knowledge of the NHS gained from working on two NHS trusts, a primary care trust and a strategic health authority. His depth of knowledge and breadth of experience will be vital in helping the Health Research Authority to safeguard the interests of patients while streamlining health research regulations.”

Professor Dame Sally C Davies, chief medical officer and chief scientific advisor at the Department of Health, added: “The Health Research Authority has been set up to protect and promote the interests of patients and the public in health research. Its role is to help patients to benefit from participating in research by simplifying processes for ethical research, while protecting them from unethical research.”

And Professor Mongomery said: “I feel privileged to be appointed. My first public service role was on a local research ethics committee and I know how important they are to safeguard the interests of participants. We can be proud of our country's contribution to health research. Even so, some of our NHS approval processes delay high-quality projects, especially those involving a number of different centres. We will continue to work to ensure that it is easy to carry out ethical research so that we make our contribution to ensuring that the highest levels of human knowledge and skill can be brought to bear to save lives and improve health as the NHS Constitution promises."

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