Building collaboration between the NHS and the life sciences industry

• The NHS Confederation and The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) have agreed to develop a new ambition for cross-sector collaboration to help deliver the life sciences industrial strategy, the NHS Long Term Plan for England and corresponding strategic plans for health and care in other parts of the UK.

• The shared aim is to create a compact between the NHS and industry, which recognises their mutual dependence and seeks to stimulate collaboration, both in the development and testing of new products, and services and in the roll out of effective innovation in all its forms.

• There is a great deal that is underway at national and at local level which provides evidence that effective collaboration is possible and that it delivers results. Following the publication of the strategy, the UK government agreed two Life Sciences Sector Deals and the implementation of the Accelerated Access Collaborative. There has also been significant encouragement and support for Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) in England and corresponding collectives of industry, science, clinicians and academia in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Together these moves represent significant national leadership and focus which the NHS Confederation and The ABPI are keen to support and build on.

• At the same time, there is a shared acknowledgement that significant barriers to co-operation remain and that these need to be articulated and addressed. These include both ‘hard’ themes such as complexity, sustainability and scalability and so called ‘softer’ issues such as trust, ideology and culture.

• This discussion document builds on an initial roundtable which took place in London with leading figures from the NHS in England and industry, and begins to identify both the challenges and opportunities in transforming the relationship between the NHS and the life sciences industry. The aim now is to take that forward, stimulate discussion and start to develop a shared view of what needs to be done to overcome the obstacles that hamper progress, and build on current examples of successful partnership across the UK.

• This discussion document will be launched at Confed19, the NHS Confederation annual conference and exhibition, in Manchester in June 2019. It will initially be followed by engagement events in each of the seven health regions across England, which will consider how much progress has been made locally, and what needs to be done to stimulate more effective and faster innovation and partnership. Further events across the UK will also follow.


Last modified: 20 September 2023

Last reviewed: 20 September 2023