Shelford Group Responds to the Prime Minister’s Speech on Life Sciences

Following the Prime Minister's speech on the Life Sciences industry in the UK, the Shelford Group welcomed his commitment to greater collaboration between the NHS and private sector in a letter to the Financial Times.
by Dr Gareth Goodier
29 Jun 2012

Below is a copy of the letter that was printed in The Financial Times on 7th December, 2011


Leading medical research hospitals face funding shortfall

From Dr Gareth J. Goodier and others.


Sir, The Shelford Group represents the chief executives of 10 of the NHS’s leading medical research hospitals. We welcome David Cameron’s commitment to greater collaboration between the NHS and private sector in life sciences in his speech on Monday at the FT Global Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Conference.

Our hospitals deliver the complex care that the rest of the NHS cannot undertake, as well as providing the medical infrastructure for the UK life science industry. However, the existing funding arrangements place the viability of the NHS’s leading medical research hospitals as locations for investment at risk.

By definition, many of our patients have complex, costly and lengthy treatment. The current hospital tariff system fails to recognise the costs associated with this complexity, and payment covers only the average cost of treatment in each diagnostic category. Simply put, the tariff does not cover the cost of treating complex patients. The shortfall will be over £400m ($624m) this year. If this is not addressed we would have no alternative but to reduce investment in the very people and technology that underpin medical research and the life science industry, in order to maintain the high levels of patient care and patient safety we provide.

It is worth noting that 6 per cent of global clinical trials used to be undertaken in the UK. This figure now stands at less than 2 per cent.

The prime minister’s words are encouraging, but without urgent reform to the hospital tariff system, the vital NHS infrastructure required to support UK life sciences will further diminish.


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