Medical Research Charities make case for investment in science in the Times today

Posted on October 15, 2010 by


Ahead of the spending review on Tuesday, AMRC co-ordinated a letter to the Times to voice our concerns over future investment in science, making the point that charities cannot substitute for Government investment. This was also an opportunity to raise our concerns over the impact the proposed cap on non-EU immigration may have on scientists moving to work in the UK.

It appears alongside an article in the paper packed with quotes from AMRC member charities.

The letter says:

Sir, Our work benefits millions of patients across the UK. Last year alone the 124 members of the Association of Medical Research Charities funded more than £1 billion of medical and health research. As a proportion of public expenditure that is more than any other country. This contribution is driven by the combined efforts of volunteers, supporters, donors, clinicians, scientists and patients themselves. If ever there was an example of the “Big Society” in action this is it.
Ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) we have asked the coalition Government to sustain science funding and ensure an environment that allows charities to fund research on behalf of patients. Failure to do so will lead to the UK losing its position as an international leader in science. Additional unacceptable strictures on research, such as the proposed cap on non-EU migrants, can only fuel concerns that our future scientists will be expected to work with one hand tied behind their backs.
Ministers are mistaken if they believe that charities are a substitute for Government expenditure. One of the great strengths of UK science is the synergy that exists between public, charitable and industry sources of funding. Only last week we saw evidence of what this collaboration can mean with the bowel-screening announcement heralded at the Conservative Party conference. It is such progress and the opportunity to improve health and wellbeing that has enabled us to build public support for research, support that leverages funding from other sources for the common good.
We recognise the very difficult decisions facing George Osborne. But in these final days before the CSR announcement he may wish to reflect on the comment by the American health activist Mary Lasker: “If you think research is expensive, try disease.”

And you can read the accompanying article in the Times (paywall). This includes quotes from Simon Denegri, Mark Walport – Wellcome Trust, Aisling Burnand – Cancer Research UK, Peter Weissberg – BHF and Imran Khan, Campaign for Science and Engineering.

For a few further reflections, Simon has blogged about it.


Posted in: Policy