The Prime Minister is keen to open up NHS patient data to encourage collaboration with drug and medical market research companies. Prime Minister David Cameron will announce plans today to increase collaboration between the NHS and the life sciences industry by making anonymous patient data more readily available.

NHS and industry collaboration

Cameron describes the £50bn life sciences industry as the third largest contributor to economic growth in the UK, and on the back of poor growth figures announced by Chancellor George Osborne in the Autumn Statement last week, the PM is keen to see the NHS working “hand-in-glove with industry as the fastest adopter of new ideas in the world”.

In a speech today, Cameron will declare that it should be easier for drug companies and medical market research companies to run trials in hospitals and to benefit from the NHS’s vast collection of patient data. Despite warnings over privacy concerns raised by Labour and shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, he will announce a £180m “catalyst fund” to allow projects develop until outside investment is acquired. Universities and SME’s will be able to bid for money from the fund. Cameron is also keen to give seriously ill patients access to drugs around a year before they are license for general use.

The speech has been timed to coincide with the publication of a new life sciences strategy from the Department of Business and a review of innovation in the NHS by chief executive David Nicholson.

Are you prepared?

This is fantastic news for the life sciences industry and for medical market research companies in particular, as it gives them the green light to mine the vast amount of data available from the oldest and largest health service provider in the UK. If the Prime Minister’s plans go ahead, the NHS could provide drug companies and medical market research companies with far more opportunities to run trials and projects than is currently available. However, competition for funding will be extremely tough, and only those companies with the best infrastructure will stand a chance of being successful.

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Image credit: Neil Palmer (CIAT)