After months of preparation, many briefings and a few last-minute meeting changes, AMRC hosted our first Day in Westminster event last month.
What a Day!
Wednesday 29 November saw AMRC bring 35 of its member charity CEOs for a full day of engagement with key policymakers in Westminster, and provided a celebration of the outstanding work and impact of the sector.
The Day raised the profile of the sector with decision-makers across Westminster and Whitehall, gaining and imparting a wide variety of insights with key stakeholders as well as forging channels for influence and consultation.
It provided a unique opportunity for the sector to speak with a united voice on key issues, including the medical research environment, patient data, research in the NHS, and leaving the European Union.
Meetings, talks and a lunch
The Day involved 23 policymaker meetings in total. Four Ministers from across the Departments for Health, for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and for Exiting the European Union took part, as well as 14 MPs and Peers including shadow ministers and health spokespersons, and 7 senior civil servants.
Following a breakfast briefing from AMRC, Health Minister Lord O’Shaughnessy gave a keynote speech and Q&A. The Minister provided detail on the Government’s plans for the sector following the publication of the Industrial Strategy, before fielding probing questions from our CEOs. And let’s not forget Lord O’Shaughnessy pronouncing medical research charities as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the UK’s life sciences sector!
CEOs then attended morning stakeholder meetings, before AMRC hosted a lunch reception in the House of Lords with our Chair Lord Sharkey. The reception celebrated the unique contribution of medical research charities to the UK’s world-leading life sciences and patient care. During the reception our sponsor stands Alzheimer’s Research UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Anthony Nolan and Kidney Research UK engaged attendees with examples of their pioneering work.
The reception provided an ideal occasion to announce AMRC’s latest Spotlight Report on Healthcare Technology. The report illustrates the contributions our members make in the development of technologies, including diagnostics, medical devices and eHealth tools, within the UK’s life sciences sector. It reveals that 78 of AMRC’s member charities fund healthcare technology research, investing over £380 million between 2015 and 2016.
We also heard from Director of the Wellcome Trust Jeremy Farrar, who spoke passionately on how the sector must be more assertive in striving for its goals, where patients are the common beneficiaries, and that now is the time to take this centre stage given political and industry developments.
MedCity Chief Executive Sarah Haywood then provided food for thought on the value of innovative partnerships medical research charities bring to transformative outcomes for patients, and the key role of collaborations more widely in the UK’s life sciences landscape.
Following the lunch reception, our CEOs then attended their afternoon meetings, before a well-earned drinks reception to end the day.
While impactful in itself, the Day in Westminster of course represents an excellent springboard with which to expand the sector’s influence.
Several MPs have indicated their willingness to work with the sector, for example by submitting Parliamentary Questions, with some already submitted on the Clinical Trials Regulation and rare disease clinical trials after our Chief Executives briefed Thangam Debbonaire MP on the sector’s concerns.
Key contacts and supporters to the sector’s causes have been developed for both AMRC and our members.
It is fair to say the day had positive impact!
The success of the day was a collaborative effort. We would like to sincerely thank policymakers for their time and engagement, our sponsors, and all of our members who took part for their time and effort.
Here’s to next year’s event!