These recommendations are intended as supportive guidance and are not mandatory for the development of cross-sector collaborations.
The 2017 Life Sciences Industrial Strategy report to government recognised the NHS as a unique asset for life sciences and, consequently, for the economic growth of the UK. The government’s subsequent Life Sciences Sector Deals in 2017 and 2018 and the formation of the Accelerated Access Collaborative built upon the vision that rapid patient access to biomedical innovation can improve both the economic prosperity of the UK and the health of its people – a theme further amplified in the NHS Long-Term Plan.
Realising the opportunity presented by biomedical innovation will depend on NHS, life sciences and industry stakeholders collaborating more effectively than in the past to tackle health needs, prepare for major new developments such as Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs) and develop integrated health data assets that allow outcome-based planning. Success will be derived from demonstrating the ability of innovative medicines and technologies to improve people’s health in real-world settings and by scaling these improvements nationally. The prize will be a virtuous circle that delivers health and economic benefits to the UK from a thriving life sciences ecosystem.
The formation of STPs and ICSs represents a positive shift in the ability of local NHS and public sector organisations to work together to improve health outcomes for the populations they serve – and, crucially, to measure those improvements. The new structures also create an opportunity for more ambitious strategic partnerships with industry to address health needs at local population level.
However, the complexity of developing such cross-sector partnerships is increased by the fact that many NHS, local government and other organisations are still at a formative stage in working together, let alone engaging with industry partners. While there is widespread interest in and goodwill towards cross-sector collaboration, industry and NHS stakeholders have frequently been frustrated by the time taken to agree collaborations, concerns about governance and the challenge of aligning system needs with industry offers.
The guidance set out in this document aims to address these challenges and make it easier for STPs, ICSs and industry to develop and implement local collaborative initiatives that improve patient outcomes, make more efficient use of NHS resources and generate evidence of impact for industry – a ‘triple win’. Adherence to this guidance is not mandatory but we suggest that it is helpful in avoiding some of the issues which have frequently hindered the type of collaboration described in this document.