Political priorities for science and health in the UK

Hilary Burton

26 September 2014

One week after an historic vote for the people of Scotland – and for Great Britain – the question has since turned to issues of fair representation for all of the countries in our unique nation.  The so-called devolution revolution has the potential to bring more changes to how our healthcare system is run, going much further than the already controversial localism agenda, which has brought huge changes to the NHS over recent years.

It has been interesting to see how the political parties respond to this development. We will get our first real insight into the question at the party conferences, which started this weekend, and which we are excited to be attending as an organisation for the first time. 

We look forward to seeing their take on the major issues facing health services (and health, in general); what proposals are on the table in this respect, and how they vary from party to party. 

Alongside our own manifesto, we plan to produce a policy map in the next few months that will show what each party is pledging in order to ‘make science work for health’. In particular, we are keen to track whether there are any wider, end-to-end policy commitments – all the way through from harnessing innovations in biomedical science and enabling change in our healthcare systems, to empowering individuals by putting them in control of their own health and healthcare. 

At the Labour party conference this weekend, for example, there was a lot of focus on the NHS – how they would pay for more staff, and what their visions were for a holistic ‘national health and care service’. But there seemed to be far less consideration given to translating innovations in biomedical science into practice: there was a distinct lack of policies specific to making that leap from research to the end user. 

It is our hope that all the parties give these issues the consideration they deserve, and reflect it in their final manifestos. We will be doing our bit until May next year - to convey our message of what they need to prioritise, and with the hope that the Government in 2015 is fully briefed about the current challenges in the translational implementation side of biomedical research. 

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