The UK Department of Health will allocate £775m ($1.2bn) over the next five years to fund research into treatments that will benefit NHS patients.

The funding will be made available to NHS and university partnerships through the National Institute for Health Research. Partnerships will be encouraged to focus on improving health outcomes for patients in high priority disease areas such as dementia, cancer and heart disease.

The funding is part of a total £4bn that the department is investing in research and development up to March 2015.

Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley said, “We want to give NHS patients the best possible treatment. To do that we need to give British researchers the tools they need to develop new world-class treatments and innovations for NHS patients.”

Prime Minister David Cameron added, “This is a great day for science and in particular health research in this country. We have an enviable track record in making new discoveries and developing new treatments, and this important funding will help to maintain our position as a centre of scientific excellence.”