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Volume: 5 Issue: 5
(May 2018)

committee criticises planned implementation uk life sciences industrial strategy house lords science technology committee (‘committee described uk governments plans

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Committee criticises planned implementation of UK Life Sciences Industrial Strategy

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee (‘Committee’) has described the UK Government’s plans for the implementation and oversight of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy (‘Strategy’) as a “recipe for failure,” in a report entitled ‘Life Sciences Industrial Strategy; Who’s driving the bus?’ (‘Report’), published on 26 April 2018. The Report provides recommendations for the Government on implementing the Strategy, claiming that the current structure of the NHS stifles innovation and that the NHS’ central role in the life sciences sector means only the Government can take the lead in solving the issues the Committee has identified as restricting the Strategy’s implementation.

The UK Government announced its intention to implement the Strategy, which was published on 30 August 2017, in the ‘Industrial Strategy: Life Sciences Sector Deal (‘Sector Deal’),’ published on 6 December 2017. In the Report, however, the Committee states that the Government’s plans for implementation and oversight do not provide an effective model and are lacking clarity and detail, noting its disappointment that the Sector Deal does not contain the metrics, governance and oversight arrangements that the Government had promised in its written evidence. The Committee recommends that there should be a single body with complete oversight of the implementation of the Strategy, called the ‘Life Sciences Governing Body,’ which should take the lead in drawing up an implementation plan with clear milestones, timelines, and criteria for success. The Committee also recommends that the Life Sciences Governing Body report to a Cabinet committee, task subordinate working groups with the operational delivery of specific areas of the plan, and in its structure include senior representation from the Home Office, so that immigration policy can be incorporated into the implementation plans. The Committee has made this recommendation in light of its view that immigration policy is central to the continued success of the UK life sciences sector, and any inhibition of free movement arising from Brexit will add urgency to a case to reform immigration regulations to facilitate acquiring overseas talent.

The Report goes on to criticise the structure of the NHS, stating that a focus on cost control and a lack of coordination between its various bodies diminishes the prioritisation of adopting and spreading innovations. The Committee believes that NHS England and NHS Improvement must give the highest priority to implementing innovations, and should work together to align their strategies to maximise the chance of success. The Committee recommends that the Government explore how it can offer financial incentives to NHS trusts that adopt and spread these innovations, and additionally suggests that the Government develop solutions to problems associated with exploiting NHS patient data. The Report lists setting up Digital Innovation Hubs, which was an action described in the Sector Deal, as an option that could go some way to tackle such problems.

At the time of publication, the UK Government is yet to respond to the Committee’s Report.

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