Call to place medical and health research at the heart of economic plans

Ahead of the Autumn Statement, the Academy of Medical Sciences has led a call for the Chancellor to place medical and health research at the heart of plans for growth.

The letter, signed by leading biomedical and health research institutions from the private and charitable sector including Pfizer, Wellcome, BioIndustry Association, Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation, highlights the need to invest in research as a driver for health and wealth across the UK and globally.

It emphasises the critical role played by biomedical and health research in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and its importance in addressing further threats to our health and economic security. This is in addition to tackling urgent pressures including mental health, cancer and heart disease, and growing health inequalities.

Commenting on the letter, Professor Dame Anne Johnson PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said:

“Medical and health research is one of the UK’s biggest assets and is vital for the health of the public and the nation’s economy. It’s fuelled by an ecosystem of talented people, world-class universities, a thriving life sciences industry, patient-centred medical research charities and the unrivalled research potential of the NHS bringing health benefits to patients and the public. Moreover, it delivers economic returns to the country of 25p per pound investment, each year, forever.

“Investment in research isn’t a tap you can turn on and off, and we cannot afford to be complacent. We therefore call on the Government to provide the stability needed to drive innovation, create high-skilled jobs in high-growth industries and improve the nation’s health.”

The letter and signatories are copied below in full:

Call for the Chancellor to place medical and health research at the heart of economic plans

For the nation’s growth, security, stability and wellbeing, this Government must place medical and health research at the heart of its economic plans. The Government is facing difficult decisions, but an investment in research is crucial for health and wealth across the whole of the UK and around the world.

The Autumn Statement is an opportunity to send a strong message that the UK is open for business and remains a premier destination to work on health research that improves lives.

Health research is one of the UK’s great strengths driven by talented people, world-class universities, a thriving life sciences industry, patient-centred medical research charities and the unrivalled research potential of the NHS. This brings health benefits to patients and public and delivers economic returns to the country of 25p per pound investment, each year, forever.

We therefore call on Government to recommit to making the UK a global hub for life sciences as set out in the 2019 Conservative Manifesto and maintaining the 2021 Spending Review commitment to invest £20bn per year by 2024/25 and £22bn by 2026/27 in public R&D.

This includes:

  • Ensuring health research investment is balanced across Government research funders and maintaining previously set out commitments for both UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).
  • Reaffirming that funding set aside for association to Horizon Europe will be spent on research and innovation whether or not we are able to associate.
  • Supporting public investment with internationally competitive R&D tax incentives that will leverage further private investment from innovative and research-intensive life sciences companies.

Renewed investment will drive innovation, create high-skilled jobs in high-growth industries and improve the nation’s health. Such stability would allow the best ideas to flourish and provide certainty for the talented people and innovative businesses pursuing health research in the UK.

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the immediate and long-term impacts that poor health has on people and the economy. The UK medical science sector led the fight against this threat and the resulting vaccines and treatments were a global triumph.

But we cannot be complacent. We must learn from the pandemic, recognising that it is long-term investment in UK science that facilitated this success.

There will be further threats to our health and economic security, alongside urgent pressures including mental health, cancer and heart disease, and the need to tackle growing health inequalities. We must invest accordingly to protect the nation’s economic and human health.

Now is the time to reassert and deliver on plans to maximise the benefits of medical research to the economy and to people’s lives.

The Academy of Medical Sciences

Association of Medical Research Charities

Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry

British Heart Foundation

Cancer Research UK

Life Arc

Pfizer

The Institute of Cancer Research

UK BioIndustry Association

UK Dementia Research Institute 

Wellcome

 

This letter was covered by the BBC with a news story and a live interview on BBC news: Businesses warn research cuts will stall UK economy

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