Vaccine Taskforce model to be used to tackle health challenges

The government has announced a Vaccine-Taskforce-style approach to tackle public health challenges.

£113 million will be used to fund research into four healthcare missions: cancer, obesity, mental health and addiction, with the aim to "unlock the next generation of medicines and diagnostics to save lives, transform patient care and ensure UK patients are the first to benefit from medical breakthroughs".

The government said the Vaccine-Taskforce model will be used to harness world-leading research expertise, remove unnecessary bureaucracy, and strengthen partnerships.

It is hoped that tackling these healthcare challenges can save the NHS money, with the estimated cost of obesity to the NHS currently at £6.1 billion a year.

The prime minister Rishi Sunak, health and social care secretary Steve Barclay and business secretary  Grant Shapps will meet with industry figures including NHS leaders and industry experts at the Life Sciences Council to discuss delivering innovations and improving NHS efficiency.

Sunak said: "The NHS faces real pressures, which is why we are investing over £100 million in the technologies and medicines of the future to address some of the biggest public health challenges facing our country.

"This funding will improve outcomes for patients, ease existing pressures on the system and ensure that we are amongst the first to benefit from medical breakthroughs. Importantly it will also help save the NHS millions of pounds that could otherwise be spent on patient care - for example by tackling obesity which costs the health service over £6 billion annually.

"It is hugely welcome too that the highly successful Vaccine Taskforce, which procured millions of life-saving vaccines in record time during the pandemic, will now become a blueprint for how we harness the best talent and expertise from around the world and drive investment in research and development."

£22.5 million will be spent on cancer research to develop immune-based cancer therapies such as vaccines which are targeted to a specific cancer.

£40.3 million will be invested in mental health to develop and introduce digital technologies, such as technology to monitor mental health at home.

£20 million is to be used for obesity, to trial how best to deliver new medicines and technologies for those living with obesity, particularly in deprived areas.

Finally, £30.5 million will be spent on addiction, to accelerate the development of new technologies to prevent deaths from overdoses.

Barclay said: "Conditions such as cancer and obesity prevent people leading long, healthy lives and cost the NHS billions of pounds every year.

"We’re leading the way in cutting-edge research which can find new ways to speed up diagnosis, enhance treatments and ensure a better quality of life for patients - both now and in the future.

"By harnessing the same spirit of innovation that delivered the vaccine rollout and working hand in hand with the NHS, industry and healthcare experts.

"We’re building a stronger, healthier NHS with record numbers of staff and record funding, to give people the security of knowing it will be there for them when they need it."


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