Westminster Health Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Health research in England - responding to COVID-19, and priorities for funding and regulation

Morning, Thursday, 1st October 2020

Online Conference


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference examines the future of health research in England.

Key areas for discussion:

COVID-19 - meeting the challenges of research and what the pandemic will mean for the research ecosystem, including: 

  • regulating and developing medicines and medical devices
  • prioritising clinical trials for COVID-19 and following updated guidelines
  • coordinating clinical trials in diagnostics, virology and immunity, epidemiology and transmission
  • the development of a vaccine and effective treatments, following the government-funded UK trial showing dexamethasone significantly reducing risk of death in hospitalised COVID-19 patients who required oxygen
  • meeting urgent need, and research into the impact of health inequalities on the severity of COVID-19, and understanding why COVID-19 is clustered in certain areas across England
  • what the pandemic will mean for the research ecosystem, including the impact on health research funding and supporting health researchers and the workforce to deliver research
  • the future of the health research amid warnings from medical research charities of the severe impact of COVID-19 on fundraising, and calling for government to support a Life Sciences-Charity Partnership Fund

Future international engagement in health research - looking at:

  • the UK trade negotiations with the EU and the Government’s stated aim of non-alignment on regulation - the potential impact on regulatory procedures, clinical trial processes and access to funding and pan European research projects
  • what more needs to be done to ensure the UK remains an attractive place to carry out research

Research transparency and use of patient data - looking at:

  • realising the potential for innovation whilst safeguarding safety and security
  • improving access for researchers and institutions to datasets and enhancing the UK’s science offer for research, data, and data-driven technology
  • the future of the new contact-tracing app as part of its COVID-19 response - including how data is being used in identifying those at risk
  • priorities for improving research transparency and integrity

Funding and the talent pipeline:

  • the balance of public and private sector funding and the impact of any changes to the funding landscape, following announcements including that UK scientists and businesses will continue to have access to Horizon 2020 even after the transition period has ended
  • training and development of skills for staff in the life sciences sector across England

Learning from COVID-19, including:

  • supporting innovation whilst maintaining the regulation of research and clinical trials
  • facilitating collaboration between academics, SMEs and industry to address COVID-19 knowledge gaps

Developments that are relevant to the discussion:

  • Updates to the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy and its commitments to publish a national genomics strategy, launch a national data policy framework to support research partnerships, and promote a common gateway for data access
  • The introduction of the Medicines and Medical Devices Bill to parliament, and its aim to ensure the UK takes a key role in global research post-Brexit
  • Forecasts from the Life Sciences 2030 Skills Strategy that more than 130,000 more skilled scientific staff will be needed to meet the demands of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy
  • The draft strategy for improving transparency, which is due to be published by the Health Research Authority shortly, and the announcement from UK Research and Innovation that a research integrity committee will be in place by Summer 2020
  • The introduction of the COVID-19 Rapid Response Rolling Call by UKRI and NIHR for academics, SMEs and wider industry research that will address COVID-19 knowledge gaps - with particular focus on COVID-19 and ethnicity, and research on transmission, risk factors, priority groups and seroprevalence
  • The report from Public Health England analysing how factors such as ethnicity, obesity and gender can affect vulnerability to COVID-19

The agenda:

  • Priorities for health research in England
  • Key issues for regulation and responding to the challenge of COVID-19 - regulation, data use, and encouraging innovation:
    • Regulation of research and clinical trials - the evolving landscape
    • Case study - developing a track and trace system as part of the COVID-19 response
    • Utilising data and ensuring appropriate data collection and use - protection, opportunities for innovation, and maintaining public trust
    • Transparency in research - reproducibility, reporting results and impact
    • Opportunities for patient and public engagement in health research
    • Case study - opportunities for learning from the NHS Test Beds Programme
    • Using health research and innovation to tackle health inequalities and support the response to COVID-19
  • Ensuring the UK remains an attractive place to carry out clinical research
  • Providing the support needed for health research and those working in it - responding to the pandemic, the impact of Brexit on funding streams and collaboration, and delivery of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

This one is no different. Places have been reserved by officials from the Department of Health and Social Care; the Department for International Trade; HM Revenue & Customs; the MHRA; the National Audit Office and The Scottish Government.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Dr Louise Wood

Director, Science, Research and Evidence, Department of Health and Social Care

Keynote Speakers

Dr Louise Wood

Director, Science, Research and Evidence, Department of Health and Social Care

Professor David Crossman

Chief Scientist, Health, NHS Scotland and Dean, School of Medicine, University of St Andrews


Lord Sharkey

Chair, Association of Medical Research Charities


Hannah Davies

Head of External Affairs and Health Inequalities Lead, Northern Health Science Alliance

Paul Hatton

Professor of Biomaterials Science and Director of Research, University of Sheffield

Juliet Tizzard

Director of Policy, Health Research Authority

Dr Neville Young,

Director, Enterprise and Innovation, Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network

Dr Sheuli Porkess

Executive Director, Research, Medical and Innovation, ABPI

John Craig

Chief Executive, Care City

Professor Matt Westmore

Director of the Wessex Institute and Professor of Research Policy, University of Southampton

Christine McGrath

Director, Research and Development, University Hospital Southampton NHS Trust and Chair, UKRD

Amy Darlington

Executive Director, Imperial College Health Partners

Dr Samantha Walker

Director of Research & Innovation, Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Partnership