Investment is rolling in for cutting-edge life sciences. But we also need investment in healthcare provision, to make sure we can all enjoy good health, mobility and comfort throughout our lives.
A recent study by the BioIndustry Association showed that the UK is the world’s third largest centre for investment in life sciences. Over £1 billion was invested in UK life sciences in 2016, putting us just behind centres such as greater Boston and the San Francisco region, and well ahead of other established centres such as Switzerland and Japan.
But innovative miracle drugs are only one strand in creating a healthy society. To be a truly healthy society we need more investment in healthcare in the broadest sense. A report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies has shown that spending on adult social care in the UK fell by 6.4 percent between 2009 and 2016, during a period when the population aged 65 and above grew by 15.6 percent.
This runs completely counter to the expectations that most Britons have. People expect to have a longer, healthier and more active retirement period, and they rightly believe that this is not only possible, but indeed well-deserved. But without investment, both public and private, we will consign ourselves to a frugal old age.
This week, three colleagues and I are travelling to Chicago to participate in HealthInvestor’s conference. I will address the conference on Brexit and the political climate in the UK. But we’ll also be meeting with investors and decision-makers from across the healthcare sector – from leading drug manufacturers through to care providers and specialists in wellbeing and mental health.
Of course, the US health system diverges from ours primarily in their user-pays model. We have a different model of healthcare in the UK, and one that I support strongly. But we can learn from some of the first-rate care that the US has, even if our funding model is different. And it would be short-sighted to turn away investment in this most crucial of sectors. I hope to come back from the US brimming with ideas for how life sciences, health and social care in the UK can be top of the class.