The Scottish National Party launched their 2017 General Election manifesto on Tuesday 30 May in Perth. ‘Stronger For Scotland’ is the SNP's vision for the next Westminster government.
"To tackle the widely acknowledged underfunding of the NHS, the pharmaceutical industry welcomes the Scottish National Party's (SNP) commitment to increase NHS spending. By also identifying the need for health spending in England to catch-up with Scotland and the ambition to deliver faster access to new medicines across Britain, the SNP have made an important statement that the NHS must deliver equal access to world-class services and outcomes for every patient in the UK.
"Yet as the SNP set out a detailed future vision for Scotland, it is disappointing that the party has neglected to outline specific measures to grow Scotland's flourishing Life Sciences sector – worth an estimated £4.2bn. For the UK's pharmaceutical industry, national and devolved governments alike must be decisive in making sure Britain keeps its position as a location of choice for jobs and investment."
The SNP's headline commitment of an increased £2bn for the NHS by the end of this Parliament is a welcome step forward for patients in Scotland. Yet as all political parties in the UK have failed to recognise this election, across Britain there will be a need to go further than current spending plans if we are to deliver a more ambitious, world-class NHS that meets the demands of our ageing population.
As part of a long-term sustainable strategy to make patient outcomes the best in the world, the ABPI believes that UK spending on health care will need to increase to reach the G7 average by the end of the next Parliament.
By calling for the devolution of responsibility for medicine and medical product regulation to the Scottish Parliament, the SNP manifesto could increase uncertainty around Brexit and the ABPI urges continuity of the current regulatory system, and we would welcome continuity of the current UK-wide system, avoiding any potential damaging disruption or delay to patient access to new medicines.
At a time when the whole of the UK needs to encourage global companies to invest and secure jobs, the ABPI is disappointed that within this manifesto the SNP hasn't mapped out a plan to grow and maintain Scotland's £4.2bn Life Sciences industry. With a head office or site in every major UK city or region, the ABPI believes that the Scottish Government's existing Life Sciences Strategy must be closely aligned and integrated with the UK-wide Industrial Strategy delivered by the next Westminster government, if Scotland and the rest of the UK are to maximise growth and jobs.
The ABPI is pleased to see the SNP outline targeted reductions in Employment Allowance and plans to incentivise investments in plants and machinery. Additionally, while the ABPI recognises there is a difficult balance for government to strike, we welcome the SNP's plans to oppose the Immigration Skills Charge. A tax on talent risks cutting off the fuel that supplies the pipeline of highly skilled workers our pharmaceutical industry needs.
The ABPI welcomes The Scottish National Party's acknowledgement that continued alignment and cooperation between the UK and the European Medicines Agency is the best way of ensuring medicines continue to be developed and delivered to patients across Europe without undue barriers and repetition of work and delays. Avoiding disruption through continuity in proportionate, robust and effective medicines regulation – and access to the new clinical trials database and drugs safety systems – will be important for patients and public health in both the UK and the EU.
We also welcome that the SNP have recognised that EU-led research and innovation initiative projects such as Horizon 2020 have made a significant contribution to the excellence of UK science. Continued participation and funding of collaborative projects with European partners will be a key to maintaining the UK's world-leading role in pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences.