The Prime Minister’s decision to call a General Election sent shockwaves through Westminster, having repeatedly vowed not to have a snap election at a time when the country needed stability post-referendum.
With the General Election on 8th June, political parties now have approximately seven weeks to outline their offering to the electorate and prove that they can govern in the national interest, as well as somehow balancing the desires of Leave and Remain voters alike.
But what about the impact of the General Election on the health tech sector?
- Whilst health tech is unlikely to be or become a key issue during the General Election campaign, the NHS certainly will. You can expect Labour to campaign strongly on providing further funding to the health service (and the party historically polls well on the NHS) – however more money may not necessarily lead to a rise in the adoption of innovative health technologies that could have a game-changing impact on patient outcomes. As a recent Committee report found, the NHS could do much more to take up innovation and technology and overall, there is a lack of clarity as to who should be encouraging its uptake. As the Health Service Journal rightly point out, the Five Year Forward View timetable may now need to be readjusted as it broadly lines up with the previous 2015-2020 election cycle, which has now been broken.
- A logjam in policymaking? The industry still awaits a response to the Government-commissioned Accelerated Access Review (AAR). Having this week entered ‘purdah’, the time period immediately before elections or referenda when restrictions on the activity of civil servants are put in place, the likelihood of a response to the AAR being published before the election is extremely low. Immediately after the election, the focus will be on putting together the ministerial team to deliver the governing party’s programme for government. With only a matter of weeks between the election and the summer recess, the government may well decide that a response can only issued thereafter.
- New Ministers and political stakeholders? An election means the possibility of a new governing party (an unlikely scenario based on current polls) but also the chance of new Ministers and political stakeholders. Lord O’Shaughnessy, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health and Minister responsible for the uptake of medical technologies and new drugs, could be reshuffled post-election. Additionally, you can expect to see changes to memberships of the Health Committee and Science and Tech Committee.