The Northern Health Science Alliance welcomes the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s news that life sciences in the UK will receive a £650m package of investment. For the North, this level of commitment is a hugely important first step for investment in the sector. We await with interest to see how it will become an active part of levelling up.
Within Jeremy Hunt’s announcement is the reassurance that Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) are to be relaunched as health innovation networks. The work of the AHSNs over recent years has been immensely valuable for both health improvement and wealth creation across the North. They have allowed our regions to mobilise our academic and healthcare assets and tap into new investments, opportunities and sectors. We look forward to remaining as a key partner with these networks, working towards a shared and common goal of more prosperous and healthier communities.
I welcome the announcement that Liverpool will benefit from a £42m mental health mission package which includes setting up a new centre to understand how mental, physical and social conditions interlink our work on mental health in the North shows how this will be of benefit to patients in the North who suffer among the worst mental health outcomes in the country.
We also recommend commitments around Lord O’Shaughnessy’s Clinical Trials Review. Expertise and delivery in the North of England is very strong and following its recommendations will build on existing successes and further benefit patients in North and beyond.
We would however have liked to have seen additional investment made in the North of England. If the UK is to reach its full potential in the life sciences sector, then the expertise across the North of England must be invested in properly. While this announcement is very positive, it doesn’t appear to give due weight to either the vast potential of our region in the sector or to the need for prioritisation of investment in regions that have been underfunded for decades. Recent Community Renewal Funding analysis shows funding was applied in a manner that increased rather than decreased the gap in investment between North and South. This must not be allowed to happen in life sciences.
Investment in the North is crucial to breaking the cycle of deprivation, disparity and lack of services, and I, as always, implore the Government to rebalance the scale of their investment: investment in the North is an investment in the future of the country as a whole.
Dr Séamus O’Neill
Northern Health Science Alliance
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