The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee's report 'Life Sciences Industrial Strategy: Who’s driving the bus?' raises serious concerns about the Government’s commitment to delivering the strategy which has so far been “wholly inadequate” and recommends there should be sweeping simplification of its implementation arrangements.
The success of the life sciences sector is vital to the UK economy and the health and wellbeing of the population. The report focusses on the issues that require immediate action to ensure the development and expansion of the sector.
Over the course of the inquiry, the Committee has uncovered complicated arrangements for strategy’s implementation and a lack of clear authority and accountability. This raises questions about the Government’s commitment to implementing the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy.
Lord Patel, Chairman of the Committee said:
“If implemented correctly the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy will make a major contribution to the future economic prosperity of the UK but what became clear throughout our inquiry is that it stands little chance of success without a detailed plan for implementation and clear lines of authority, responsibility and accountability.
“The Government has an opportunity right now to get ahead of international competition. It can, and must, take bold steps to secure the future growth and expansion of the life sciences sector. This is even more vital as the UK prepares for life outside the European Union.”
Key findings from the report
The Life Sciences Industrial Strategy has already secured the commitment of the business, charity and academic communities. But the central role of the NHS in the life sciences means only the Government can take the lead.
The Committee recommends there should be a single body with complete oversight the implementation of the strategy called the Life Sciences Governing Body. The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary and the Health and Social Care Secretary must ensure this Body has the cross-Government backing it needs to do its work.
The Government has failed to engage the NHS effectively even though the NHS is critical to the delivery of the strategy. As a result, the NHS's commitment to the strategy has so far been incoherent, uncoordinated and ineffective. It does not currently have the capacity to rise to the challenge of its implementation and current NHS structures stifle innovation.
The Committee urges the NHS to give greater priority to the uptake and spread of innovation and to rewarding clinicians and managers who make such adoption successful. The Government should explore how it can offer financial incentives to those NHS trusts that adopt and spread proven innovations.