Westminster Health Forum

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

October 2020


Price: £95 PLUS VAT
Format: DOWNLOADABLE PDF


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


This conference examines the future of health research in England


The discussion at a glance:


  • the response to COVID-19
  • ensuring the UK remains an attractive place to carry out clinical research
  • supporting the workforce with future challenges, including the impact of Brexit and COVID-19 on the research environment.

The discussion in detail:


COVID-19


  • regulation and safety - supporting innovation in developing medicines and medical devices whilst maintaining research and clinical trial standards and integrity
  • regulation and data - sharing and use of information to enable and support local lockdowns, including availability to local authorities
  • clinical trials - in diagnostics, virology and immunity, epidemiology and transmission following updated Clinical trials applications for Coronavirus guidelines from the MHRA
  • research priorities - looking at meeting urgent need, vaccine and effective treatment development, and understanding antibody response with the easing of lockdown, the impact of health inequalities on symptom severity, and the clustering of outbreaks in certain settings and geographic areas
  • impact on the research ecosystem - health research funding, and supporting health researchers and the workforce to deliver research, with  warnings from medical research charities of the severe effect of COVID-19 on fundraising and calls for government to support a Life Sciences-Charity Partnership Fund
  • joint working - facilitating collaboration between academics, and industry including SMEs to address COVID-19 knowledge gaps

Future international engagement in health research


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

Funding and the talent pipeline


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

Research transparency and use of patient data


  • safeguards - realising the potential for innovation whilst ensuring safety and security
  • data - improving access for researchers and institutions to datasets and enhancing the UK’s science offer for research, data, and data-driven technology
  • test and trace - how data is being used to identify those at risk as part of the COVID-19 response, and the future of contact-tracing technology
  • research transparency and integrity - priorities for improvement  

A scan of relevant developments:


  • the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy -  including updates, 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 Medicines and Medical Devices Bill  - as it progresses in parliament, with its aim to ensure the UK takes a key role in global research post-Brexit
  • the Life Sciences 2030 Skills Strategy - with forecasts that more than 130,000 more skilled scientific staff will be needed to meet the demands of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy
  • Make it Public - Transparency and openness in health and social care research - a strategy from the Health Research Authority to improve public visibility of trials and their results
  • the Research Integrity Committee and the UKRI announcement of the appointment of Dr Helen Munn as interim Chair
  • the COVID-19 Rapid Response Rolling Call introduced by UKRI and NIHR for academics, SMEs and wider industry research to address knowledge gaps - with particular focus on COVID-19 and ethnicity, and research on transmission, risk factors, priority groups and seroprevalence
  • COVID-19: review of disparities in risks and outcomes - the report from PHE analysing how factors such as ethnicity, obesity and gender can affect vulnerability
  • launch of The Post-hospitalisation COVID-19 study (PHOSP-COVID) study by a consortium including NIHR and UKRI to study long-term effects on hospitalised patients, looking at improving mental health of those affected, the influence of gender and ethnicity on recovery, and strategies for clinical care, rehabilitation and personalisation
  • the Your COVID Recovery service from NHS England to expand access to rehabilitation treatments based on the latest evidence for those who have survived the virus

The agenda:


  • Priorities for health research in England
  • Key issues for regulation and responding to the challenge of COVID-19 - regulation, data use, and supporting innovation:
    • Regulation of research and clinical trials - the evolving landscape
    • 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 parliamentary pass-holders from both Houses of Parliament and officials from the Department of Health and Social Care; MHRA; the Office for Life Sciences; HM Treasury; the National Audit Office; the Department of Health NI; BEIS; the Department for International Trade; DFID; HM Revenue & Customs; The Scottish Government and the Welsh 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



This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles