Responding to the release of the Government’s Levelling Up white paper today [Wednesday February 2], Dr Séamus O’Neill, Chief Executive of the Northern Health Science Alliance, commented:
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to break the cycle of underinvestment in the North, particularly its plans to increase research and development funding outside of London and the South East and to raise healthy life expectancy.
“The North suffers the worst health inequalities in the country – primarily due to the long-term effects of economic disadvantage at population level. Although the levelling up white paper is a positive step in the right direction, more needs to be done.
“In the North we are currently missing out on billions in R&D funding every year due to a lack of investment. Our region should be supported to become globally competitive when it comes to research, industry and clinical assets in the life sciences and other high value sectors. We have excellent opportunities for growth and job creation in a wide variety of Life Sciences fields in the North, but investment must be sustained to build back better, level up and make the UK a global scientific superpower.
“The innovation hub in Manchester is much deserved and needed but if we are to unleash the potential of the entire North of England in this space the funding mentioned falls short of what is needed.
“If the Government is truly committed to levelling up R&D funding in the North, we need to see investment at scale and to join up activity across all areas of excellence in the region where we have a critical mass of research expertise and companies that can create the jobs that are needed.
“There are no easy answers or quick solutions, but we must act now to break the cycle of underinvestment and give the people of the North an even break. The levelling up white paper is a positive move forward, but we need more clarity and sufficient funding. Only a long-term improvement in the economy of the North and by extension, the wider determinants of health, can improve life chances and address the unfairness and injustice experienced by too many people for far too long.”
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