George Osborne on health research today

Posted on May 28, 2012 by

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George Osborne opened the new Centre for Translational and Experimental Medicine at Imperial College, London today and made a speech all about medical research. This centre aims to create an environment where academics and clinicians work closely alongside each other, translating research speedily into new treatments for patients. This fits perfectly with the government’s plan for growth, investing in life sciences and health research as a key driver of growth in the UK.

George Osborne touched on the value of this translation of research for the UK and outlined some of the other steps the government is taking to support health research including opening up safe and secure access to patient data for researchers, and steps laid out by David Nicholson last December to improve the uptake of new medicines across the NHS. He also mentioned the new Crick Institute being built in London and in doing so gave a big nod to the value of medical research charities working alongside public funders to support research:

Our great medical charities are another great strength of the British healthcare system. They bring diversity and flexibility

What is the Centre for Translation and Experimental Medicine?

A new research facility next to Hammersmith hospital which has lab space for 450 scientists and facilities for clinical trials. It is also home to several focused research centres supported by different funders:

  • The British Heart Foundation Centre of Research Excellence
  • Medical Research Council Clinical Sciences Centre
  • Imperial Cancer Research UK Centre
  • Wellcome Trust – McMichael Clinical Research Facility

This is part of Imperial’s Academic Health Science Centre which aims to bring research, teaching and patient care all together in one place with the aim of speeding up the translation of research developments  into benefits for patients. Five of these were established in March 2009 with an initial fives years funding – at Imperial College, King’s College, University College London, Manchester and Cambridge.

What did George Osborne mention?

The need to ensure we have a research-friendly NHS that supports innovation. Innovation, Health and Wealth published in December lays out plans to ensure that the NHS is better at supporting research and taking up new findings to improve practice and ensure patients receive cutting-edge treatments.

The value of patient data for research and government support to develop a system where it can be safely and securely accessed for research:

Patient data like this is crucial for experimental medicine and we are determined that it should be available across the whole country.

He mentions the Clinical Practice Research Datalink which has recently been launched to link up datasets from GP and hospital care so that it is possible for  researchers to access data about a patients entire journey through the care system. We are also expecting a consultation on the NHS constitution in the autumn to explore whether  we should move to a system where anonymous data collected during a patients care in the NHS may be routinely used for research unless a patient has expressly chosen to opt out.

Supporting collaborative investments including public, charitable and private funders – listing collaborative ventures including the new Crick institute, and research initiatives involving public and private funders.

And he touched on universities and the government’s cash protection of the science and research budget in the last spending review – outlining the ‘contract’ he sees this investment forming with universities, that in return they must work to try to support and deliver ‘impact’ with that investment.

Our cash protection for the science and research budget includes protection for original research that begins with no commercial application on the horizon.

That is as it should be, and we fund that research not just through the research councils, but through bodies dedicated to learning like the Royal Society and the British Academy.

But we do expect something of universities: that when there is an idea, a discovery, an invention that can be applied and commercially developed you help make that happen.

And centre’s like the one launching today he marks out as key to delivering this.

And he gives a nod to the government’s ongoing support for science

We are backing you in tough times because we know how important you are to our long term economy.

We are backing you because our future depends on the work going on here and in world class labs like this across the country.

That is why we will continue to back you.

Posted in: Policy