6 November 2018 | By David Thomas Community

A vision for the NHS in 2030

Roche’s David Thomas on ensuring the UK is the leading centre for life sciences globally, post-Brexit

Our health is highly personal. However, the treatment and care we currently receive is often not. Medicines and care have been designed based on evidence from large populations and, although clinicians do their best to tailor this to the needs of individuals, we still take too broad an approach to treatment.

This is changing and will completely transform over the next decade or so. Treatments will often be designed around the needs of specific individuals, tailored to the unique genetic characteristics of the patient. Decoding a person’s genome will become as standard as taking their blood pressure.

Advances in science and technology have the potential to significantly alter services and outcomes in the NHS in the coming years. They will fundamental change the way we interact with clinicians, how data is used to inform decisions about our health, and how we understand, prevent, diagnose, treat and manage ill health.

Investment and partnership

Roche, as a leading investor in R&D globally, is seeking to start a conversation about how the UK can respond to these seismic changes in life sciences and strengthen its position as a global leader.

The company is the world’s largest biotech firm, with medicines in oncology, immunology, infectious diseases and neuroscience. It is a world leader in in vitro diagnostics, tissue-based cancer diagnostics and diabetes management.

Headquartered in Switzerland, Roche has a considerable footprint in the UK. It invests nearly half a billion in R&D here, with the highest number of clinical trials placed in the country in 2016. It also employs more than 2,000 people in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics in the UK.

The company has just published a new policy paper, with a forward from CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn, drawing on this perspective to outline the challenges and huge opportunities facing the UK. The vision set out in the report is a life sciences industry which will become a true partner in the healthcare system, with the UK as the most attractive location for life sciences research in the world, benefiting patients, the NHS and UK plc.

Stimulating debate

The world leading status of life sciences in the UK is rightly recognised by the government in their industrial strategy – and this status is reflected by the investment companies like Roche have put into the UK economy. The Roche report outlines how we can go further – and ensure the UK is the leading centre for life sciences globally, post-Brexit. 

Enabling faster adoption in the NHS of new innovations and technology is key to this, as is harnessing the promise of big data in healthcare. The latter will involve a more sophisticated conversation with the public about how their health data is used. Finally, the NHS and industry need to establish a new partnership in order to forge the health service of the future. Pooling their resources and expertise will be key to enabling better patient outcomes while ensuring a sustainable NHS in the long term.

There are some big issues which need to be addressed together by the public, industry and the NHS if we are to be successful. Roche intends to be at the forefront of this debate and to stimulate conversations about what the future could look like and how we could get there.

You can find out more at and join the conversation on twitter #2030healthcare. You can also visit the Roche exhibition and pick up a copy of the report at the CBI offices on Cannon Street during November.

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