Updated 24 November 2020

This is a live blog which will continue to be updated as further information and guidance becomes available.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt across the breadth of our health system and beyond. This is a deeply challenging time for our charities, patients and the public. In this blog we’ll provide updates on our response work and signposts to key guidance.  

Our response work

AMRC have identified three main ways that COVID-19 is affecting our members: impact on the research that charities fund; impact on the communities represented and supported by many charities; and impact on the ways that charities work. We've been working hard to support our members with these issues.

Supporting our charities

We launched an online forum to help our member charities share information, questions and concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on research, patients and organisations.

Most of our member charities have had to furlough skilled and experienced staff. Many of these staff are unable to do any work for their own charity but would like to volunteer for others. To help with this we started advertising member charity volunteer opportunities in our weekly mailing.

We hold regular virtual meetings with member charity CEOs to update them on our COVID-19 response work, listen to their concerns and answer any questions they may have.

Collecting and sharing evidence

Since the UK went into lockdown, we’ve carried out multiple surveys to capture the impact of the pandemic on our member charities. We used the results to develop two infographics: one demonstrating the risk to AMRC charities and one demonstrating the risk to charity-funded researchers.

We developed a briefing outlining how medical research charities can partner with Government to accelerate economic recovery post-COVID - ‘levelling up’ across the country and securing the UK’s position as a scientific superpower.

Alongside the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK, we supported the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) to carry out an independent analysis. The resulting report showed that the impact of COVID-19 on charity research could mean £7.8 billion less for medical research over the next 8 years.

All of this evidence has been shared with Government and key stakeholders.

Reactive statements

When funders started pausing non-COVID19 research to focus efforts and resources on the pandemic our CEO commented that these decisions should be made with the impact on patients in mind and must be communicated transparently and sensitively.

We monitored developments on Government’s Job Retention Scheme and published a statement highlighting lack of clarity for what can and should be done for researchers that charities fund.

When Government published their Research and Development Roadmap, we responded welcoming recognition of the need to invest in UK R&D and imploring Government to help save charity-funded research.

Campaigning

When the Chancellor announced a £750 million charity support package we sent a letter to stress that medical research charities are unlikely to benefit from this package.

We published a proposal for the Life Sciences-Charity Partnership Fund setting out a co-investment scheme that provides a level of match funding from Government for future charity research over the next three years. It asks for at least £310 million from in the financial year 2020/21 to bridge the sector’s project research spend gap.

We’ve sent two open letters urging Government to commit to our Life Sciences-Charity Partnership Fund: one to the Chancellor of the Exchequer signed by over 50 cross-party Members of Parliament and one to the Prime Minster signed by over 30 pharma and tech companies. Over 80 parliamentarians have advocated for our Fund so far.

We ran social media days on 9 September and 28 October. Thousands of researchers, charities and stakeholders from across the R&D sector joined us on Twitter to call on the Department of Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy and HM Treasury to protect charity-funded research. #ResearchAtRisk made it into the top 25 trends in the UK on both days.

The Lancet published a comment piece written by the CEOs of AMRC, Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation calling for Government to commit to a Life Sciences Charity Partnership Fund.

A joint statement was published on the importance of a thriving UK life sciences research sector to accelerate recovery. This statement was signed by industry and charity leaders.

The day before the Spending Review announcement, Dr James Davies MP and Chris Green MP opened a debate on recognising and preserving the value of charity-funded medical research in the 2020 Spending Review. Liz Twist MP, Wera Hobhouse MP, Racheal Maskell MP, Neale Harvey MP, Lucy Powell MP, and Amanda Solloway MP participated in the debate

Since COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK, our messaging about its impact on medical research charities and the need for the Life Sciences Charity Partnership Fund has featured in over 100 online and print articles and 11 TV and radio interviews. Over 80 MPs and Lords have advocated for our Fund.

Sector statements and guidance

We regularly refresh this list to ensure it reflects the latest guidance.  

Legal resources

Simmons & Simmons, an international law firm, have a dedicated section on their website with links to resources about the legal aspects of COVID-19.

Charities supporting the national response

Our member charities are using their expertise and resources to support the national response to the crisis however they can. 

Charity information for researchers

Our member charities have published position statements and guidance on COVID-19 for their grant applicants and grant holders.