Constitution & History
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Medical Research Scotland (the operational name of SHERT - the Scottish Hospital Endowments Research Trust) is an independent Scottish Charity (No. SC014959), constituted in terms of Section 12 and Schedule 7 of the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1978 (as amended) to receive and hold endowments, donations and bequests and to make grants from these funds to promote medical research in Scotland. It is required by the Health & Medicines Act 1988 to develop and exploit ideas and to exploit intellectual property. The Trust Fund is administered in terms of the Act by a body of Members (Trustees) who receive no fee or remuneration for their services. All those who have been appointed to serve as Members, or are otherwise associated with Medical Research Scotland (through the provision of specialist services, for example), have agreed to abide by a Code of Conduct which is based on the tenets of The Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000. This Code is reviewed, and amended if required, at least annually to ensure that it continues to reflect good practice, meeting the requirements of the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. [Download a copy of the most recent version of the Code of Conduct for Members].
The charity was originally constituted as The Scottish Hospital Endowments Research Trust [SHERT] under the Hospital Endowments (Scotland) Act 1953 (repealed and re-enacted by the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1978) to receive and hold endowments, donations and bequests and to make grants from these funds to promote medical research in Scotland. As such it operated as a non-executive departmental body of the UK (latterly the Scottish) Government, responsible to Scottish Ministers, until legislative change in 2005 resulted in its independence and its assuming responsibility for managing all its own affairs in accordance with the relevant charity legislation.
During the autumn of 2003, Scottish Ministers consulted SHERT grantholders, awarding institutions and other interested parties, seeking their views on the future status of SHERT. Following consideration of the outcome of the consultation, the Scottish Executive Minister for Health agreed that SHERT's public body status should be repealed and that SHERT could become an independent charity. Having originally been established under Act of Parliament, however, this meant that an appropriate opportunity would have to be found to allow the necessary legislative changes to be enacted.
On 7th September 2004, the Scottish Executive published the legislative programme for the 2004-05 session of the Scottish Parliament. Among the proposals in the Health Service (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Bill, was listed: "Ending the NDPB status of (the) Scottish Hospital Endowments Research Trust"'. The Trust Secretaries worked closely with representatives of the Chief Scientist Office to support the drafting of the technical details needed to ensure SHERT's future independence.
A Bill (the "Smoking, Health & Social Care (Scotland) Bill"), which included provision for changing SHERT's status was published and introduced in the Scottish Parliament in December 2004. Approved by the Scottish Parliament, the proposed legislation received Royal Assent in the summer of 2005.
The Members of the newly-independent charity subsequently agreed that some changes, including of operational name to better reflect the status and work of the charity, were needed. They also agreed that there would however be no change to the rigour which has always been applied to consideration of the funding applications it receives. As SHERT, it had an impressive track record in supporting Scotland's bright young researchers and groundbreaking research and this continues to be the primary objective of Medical Research Scotland.