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The NHS Long Term Plan: 'Our' Opportunity

Ben Osborn
Managing Director, Pfizer UK

11th February 2019

Last year we celebrated 70 years of the NHS and during that time, Britain has undergone much social, political and economic change. But, as a bedrock of support and care for the British people, the NHS remains an institution with a simple focus; patients at the heart of everything. This is something I passionately share and, like so many other organisations working with the NHS, want to play an active role in continuing to deliver.

 

In this period of political upheaval, the key domestic policy of the NHS Long Term Plan provides us all with a great opportunity to press the reset button and meet its goal in ensuring that the health service is “fit for the future”. The Plan’s ambitious vision for prevention and public health, harnessing new technologies and improving the quality of patient care and health outcomes, is something I believe in too. Turning this vision into reality though will be challenging given the growing pressures from an ageing population and opportunities created through advances in medicine and technology. The Plan gives Government, the NHS and the pharmaceutical industry the chance to have a renewed partnership, truly working together to meet these challenges head-on while putting patients first.

It is an exciting time for the life science industry as we are on the cusp of a new wave of medical innovation. While significant potential exists, we recognise that transformation can create challenges in terms of affordability and system change. The extra £20bn funding settlement has been welcomed by many and will go some way to addressing rising demands and the needs of complex conditions. But, for the NHS to deliver the scale and pace of change in the system, strong partnerships will be essential. Although industry is only one part of this combined effort, we have the tools and expertise to really help. Forging greater trust, information sharing and the development of common agendas is crucial. The 2019 voluntary pricing and access scheme agreed between the Government and industry was the start of this process and acknowledges that patients will benefit from faster adoption of innovative medicines as a result. However, we all have more to do. Expectations have now been set for how the Government will utilise the rebate from industry, which is expected to be almost £1 billion in 20191, and make the commitments for the uptake of innovation a reality. Patients are waiting.

We share the NHS’s ambition to deliver a radical upgrade in prevention and public health"

We share the NHS’s ambition to deliver a radical upgrade in prevention and public health. We agree that steps must be taken to address the root causes of rising levels of demand on the UK healthcare system. This involves tackling leading causes of ill-health such as obesity, smoking and infectious diseases. It also means maximising health protection by safeguarding our world-leading immunisation programme and ensuring the system is prepared and equipped to prevent future potential public health challenges, such as the threat posed by antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The Government’s new AMR Strategy is testament to us all working together to meet a shared goal and vision and here at Pfizer, we stand ready to play our part.

We’re excited about the future and what we can achieve together for patients. The Long Term Plan offers the perfect opportunity to put in place measures to drive meaningful improvements that benefit patients. I have seen first-hand how our industry’s experience of global innovation, along with the ability to partner with healthcare systems and apply new technologies to embed innovation, can offer learnings and experiences that would be valuable for the NHS and help reshape what is possible for patients.

Having seen the passion and dedication with which the NHS has treated my son, who has a rare epilepsy condition, and the tireless determination industry scientists bring to discover a cure or help control so many diseases, we really do share the same goal in changing the lives of patients. Let’s seize this Plan as ‘our opportunity’ to form a renewed partnership and equip the NHS with the necessary tools and expertise for the future.

 

 

References

  1. https://www.abpi.org.uk/media-centre/news/2018/november/faster-access-to-groundbreaking-medicines-as-major-milestones-reached-in-deal-with-pharmaceutical-industry/ [Last accessed May 2019]

 

PP-PFE-GBR-1761 / May 2019