A win for the Conservative party in Thursday’s general election would be the most promising outcome for the UK’s medtech industry, according to a poll of Verdict Medical Devices readers.
In a survey of over 300 visitors to our site, just under 24% of respondents said that a Tory government would be the best for British medical devices.
However, a Labour government didn’t lag far behind in popularity, receiving 22% of the vote from our readers.
The two leading parties were followed by the Liberal Democrats in third place with around 19% of the vote.
The Green Party ranked fourth at just over 12% of the vote, while the Brexit Party came in fifth with 11%.
The Conservatives currently hold a ten-point lead over the Labour party in general election polls.
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Brexit, the NHS, and cybersecurity
Brexit and the NHS are perhaps the two key issues dominating the discourse around this general election.
Should Boris Johnson’s Conservatives win re-election, the party plans to push ahead with the current deal it has struck with the EU. This deal would see the UK leave the EU on 31 January 2020, with a transition period running until December 2020. Doubt has been cast by many commentators as to whether it will be possible to get the new system up and running within the space of a year.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats are both backing a second referendum. The Liberal Democrats have explicitly backed remain, while Labour plans to strike a new deal with a permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union, close alignment with the single market and continued participation in EU agencies and funding programmes and then offer a referendum on this deal.
Every major party is also pledging to increase funding for the NHS, with the Tories promising to give the NHS its biggest-ever cash boost and to focus this funding on hospital upgrades and new screening machines.
The Conservative Party has also pledged to concentrate funding in medical research, robotics and AI – all of which could be boons for the medical device sector.
Labour is aiming to expand health expenditure by increasing spending by 4.3% annually, rather than through an immediate cash injection.
The party is also promising to fund AI, cyber tech and medical equipment to modernise outdated NHS services, and introduce medical innovation rewards and incentives for companies aiming to tackle the biggest health needs.
The Conservative party is also looking to increase funding in cybersecurity, as well as investing in computing and health data systems like the UK Biobank, Genomics England and the Accelerating the Detection of Disease Project.
Labour has pledged to ensure data protection for patient information, as well as to create a Minister for Cybersecurity.
A more in-depth analysis of the three leading parties’ medtech policies can be accessed here.
Most national opinion polls currently predict a Conservative majority, but when it comes to medtech the party’s lead is less clear-cut.
Labour and the Conservatives take radically different positions on NHS privatisation, with Labour pledging to end NHS privatisation and the outsourcing of public services – which could prove tricky for medtech companies that carry out these outsourced services.
However, the NHS has become increasingly disjointed, and an argument could be made that renationalising parts of it could help make the service more joined-up and efficient. Should the NHS begin to operate more smoothly, it may become more straightforward for medtech companies to collaborate with it.
This general election is ultimately ruled by the Brexit vote, and the medtech industry remains divided on what Johnson’s deal could mean for the UK.
Cambridge Medical Technologies CEO Jack Jachmann said: “We are the world’s second largest provider of medical technology to the EU, and there is probably untapped potential in the US – a single country market that is comparatively open and is 29% larger than the entire EU. The major Far East country markets are large, concentrated, and hungry for medtech, so a well-managed Brexit should be an opportunity for UK medtech.”
Taking a different track altogether, June Medical CEO Angela Spang said: “We have already lost funding and distribution deals into the UK. On top, we have been asked whether we can move UK production out to an EU country in case of Brexit. I think it will be a death sentence for many companies.”