To mark the NHS’s 70th birthday last week, the Health and Social Care Secretary has announced over £200 million of investment in NHS health research to develop innovative treatments. The £215 million package of funding for research could transform the lives of millions of people who are living with a range of conditions, including life-long illnesses, mental health issues and obesity.
Leading academics and technology experts will be able to apply for research funding to develop health solutions for the future, helping give patients greater independence and choice about how they manage their healthcare. £150 million will fund research over the next five years to tackle key emerging issues, including the pressures of an ageing population and the increasing demands on the NHS. The remaining £65 million will go towards 13 National Institute for Health Research units.
The Public Accounts Committee questioned representatives from the Department of Health and Social Care, and NHS England on what they are doing to control drug price increases to make sure patients are protected from harm. Having campaigned for the Government to consider the overcharging by manufacturers for unlicensed medicines or ‘Specials’, I was very glad to hear Steve Oldfield, Chief Commercial Officer of the Department of Health and Social Care, state that the Government will be launching a consultation on changing the way the health service buys ‘specials’. This consultation is aiming to ensure a new purchasing system will be in place by the middle of next year.
I attended a defence briefing dinner with Lieutenant General Tim Radford CB DSO OBE, Commander Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), last week. The ARRC are a high readiness force ready for deployment worldwide under NATO, coalition, or national auspices. The United Kingdom compromises approximately 60% of overall staff, with 21 NATO nations overall contributing personnel. 2017 marked the 25th anniversary of the force and the 200th of its predecessor.
The Department for International Trade held a meeting for colleagues last week to meet with Mark Slaughter, the new Director General for Investment. In this newly created role, Mark will lead efforts to attract foreign investment into the UK. The UK is already the top destination for foreign investment in Europe and this year the South West recorded its highest number of foreign direct investment projects in a decade. This year marked the South West’s fifth successive annual increase in foreign investment. The leading sectors generating investment were transport manufacturing, agri-food, and utilities and the largest investments in our region came from US companies.
Keri Denton, Programme Director of Connecting Devon and Somerset, and Joe Frost, Business Development Director, gave an update on the rollout of super-fast broadband locally. The final roll-out of full fibre broadband across the constituency is expected to take two years and I have been assured the impact of collapse of Carillon on the project is minimal. Connecting Devon and Somerset will be coordinating with Highways England to minimise the disruption caused by the groundworks and will be notifying local residents in advance when any work is due to take place.
Last week, along with colleagues from the South West, I was briefed by Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police on their transformational proposal to merge the two forces. With 25% of the workforce across the two forces already integrated, the proposed merger will mean less waste and duplication, leading to a better strategic focus. It will also create a saving of £4.3 million that will be reinvested in front line policing. The public consultation runs till the end of September, with a decision on the merger to be made by the Home Office by the end of 2018.
My next surgeries are in Newton Abbot on Friday 13th July at 2pm and Friday 27th July at 2.30pm. Please call my office on 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.