By Nick Herring, Policy and Public Affairs Intern, AMRC

Published: 5 December 2018

After several calls to MPs offices, numerous sit-down meetings aptly named ‘Stand-up for Day in Westminster!’ and one makeshift wedding planner later, the day in question finally arrived.

Just another day in Westminster…….au contraire!

The event brought together over 30 of AMRC’s member charity CEOs for a full day of engagement with parliamentarians and policymakers in and around Westminster to discuss some of the key issues facing the medical research charity sector.

The Day was a real opportunity for the sector to come together and celebrate the vital contributions of the medical research charity sector and open new channels for engagement and areas to influence from meetings with parliamentarians and policymakers.

With a number of meetings at the heart of British politics, what could go wrong? Cromwell Green’s entrance all day long    

Or for the Harry Potter enthusiasts out there...the Palace of Westminster and the Curse of Cromwell Green

The Day started off at our base for the day, Ellwood Atfield, where CEOs had time to network before the breakfast reception commenced. Following a welcome address from AMRC’s Chief Executive, Aisling Burnand and an outlining of the key sector messages to be communicated with parliamentarians and policymakers, delegates were off to their morning meetings.

Meetings that our member charity CEOs were involved in include: Lord Callanan, Minister of State, Department for Exiting the European Union; Chris Green MP, Chair of the APPG on Medical Research; Baroness Thornton, Lords Opposition Health Spokesperson; Sam Roberts, NHS England’s Director for Innovation and Life Sciences; and Professor Fiona Watt, MRC’s Executive Chair.

The lunch reception and launch of AMRC’s new report

After the conclusion of the morning meetings, CEOs reunited for our lunch reception hosted by AMRC’s Chair, Lord Sharkey, in the House of Commons. The reception celebrated the unique contributions of medical research charities to the UK’s world leading life science sector, with a particular focus on charities utilising data/AI and promoting healthy ageing to deliver transformative patient outcomes.

Our sponsors for the lunch reception: Kidney Research UK, Orthopaedic Research UK Alzheimer’s Research UK, Brain Tumour Research, F1000 and Catapult Medicines Discovery had the opportunity to engage with key stakeholders and parliamentarians at their stands with interactive and engaging content.

The lunch reception was also a fitting venue to launch AMRC’s new report – Saving lives with patient data registries. The report underlines the work being done across our member charities who are using patient data registries to deliver benefits to patients, the NHS and researchers.

Following Lord Sharkey’s welcome and introductions, Aisling Burnand spoke of the value that is added to registries from charity involvement, citing the UK Cystic Fibrosis Registry led by the CF Trust, a registry that includes over 99% of people with CF in the UK.

Professor Sir John Bell, author of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, delivered a keynote address on the value of medical research charities to the UK’s life sciences sector. Sir John pointed out the sector’s role in taking forward the vision set out in the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy and was keen to emphasise the assets brought by charity-supported patient data registries.

The drinks reception

After another round of meetings in the afternoon, we returned to the House of Commons for our drinks reception. Our speaker for the reception Lord Prior, Chair of NHS England spoke of the role charities will play in helping to deliver the long-term plan and thanked the sector for supporting its development.

To conclude 

And so, after several hours of standing, backs aching, some parliamentary egg & cress finger sandwiches and a few glasses of prosecco later the day came to an end. We would like to thank all who made the event such a success – the CEOs and representatives from our member charities, our sponsors for the day, the chaperones and everyone who braved the queues at Cromwell Green in the pouring rain.