Major health issues and the EU

(15 Posts)
Bookaboo Wed 15-Jun-16 22:41:19

Some of the major issues we face today don't even seem to have come up in the EU debate.
One of them is the increasing problem of antibiotic resistance. We need the scientific community to be able to collaborate easily across borders to find a solution to this.

What impact does the EU have on this? Could researchers and scientists still collaborate as easily if we left, or would a brexit really have a negative impact on developing a solution to this problem?

I'm well aware that there are various EU research budgets that we benefit from, but this is a different question of sharing research,data and working together.

shinytorch2 Wed 15-Jun-16 23:21:17

You can buy antibiotics over the counter in many European countries - that's a huge problem. They are over used thence resistance to them building

Bookaboo Thu 16-Jun-16 08:19:57

The question is, what impact does being in or out of the EU have on scientists/researchers ability to collaborate with each other working on new antibiotics and other solutions ?

Y0uCann0tBeSer10us Thu 16-Jun-16 09:13:07

I've collaborated with researchers from Europe as well as the U.S. and Canada in recent years without issue. I know some quarters are concerned about making it harder for EU citizens to move around, and it's true that some more paperwork will probably be required, but scientists have always collaborated with others all across the globe and I doubt the science will be impaired that much.

Bookaboo Thu 16-Jun-16 22:56:40

That's interesting youcannot.

I've done some more digging and found this:
www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/06/10/13-nobel-laureates-urge-britain-to-stay-in-european-union/

Oh, and by the way, on the research funding pots that I had understood we benefit from being part of the EU. One of the major funding streams is called horizon 2020 and we've been led to believe that we would loose out on research funding outside the EU, but :

"Some 15 non-EU countries. including Iceland, Israel, Ukraine, Norway, and Turkey are allowed to apply for money from Europe’s largest funding scheme.

Figures show that per capita, Iceland and Norway do far better than Britain. While the UK receives around 12 million euros per million people, Iceland gets 27 million and Norway 20 million. Israel also does better, with 14 million euros."

Also this:

scientistsforbritain.uk/wordpress/?p=259

A group of scientists in favour of Brexit.

Aargh, I'm not sure this has helped me to make a decision as much as I thought it would!

Bookaboo Fri 17-Jun-16 14:37:32

Anyone interested?

Y0uCann0tBeSer10us Fri 17-Jun-16 15:05:20

I'm aware that the majority of scientists are in favour of staying in the EU, and that is my experience as well. I think the proportion is highest in the social sciences/humanities, and lowest in Engineering, which probably reflects the level of EU funding for those fields.

But I can't really find any data that suggests why we need to stay in the EU (just research showing that most scientists are in favour) - it makes up a tiny fraction of our R & D budget, and we don't need to be in a political union to collaborate. In terms of research gravitas the EU is tiny compared to the US or UK, although I think there have been projects to boost European research in recent years. The whole thing has me kind of at a loss tbh.

MedSchoolRat Fri 17-Jun-16 16:03:15

I work in health research & my office is heaving with folk who work on EU-funded projects (I used to work on one, too). Almost all of us are non-EU migrants. I don't know any openly Leave academics.

I thought that Scientists link for Britain was a bit pants, tbh. The chap who wrote the long editorial says he's retired with 4 kids & grandchildren... who cares? It is not the academic way to bring those details into your argument. Not compelling. 9 other supporters on the website. That's it.

One thing about EU is that they compel international cooperation in what projects they fund, and they also prefer EU members (majority of funding will go to). Scientists like getting fingers in many pies (collaboration chances with others), the pies will be fewer post Brexit. We won't have the opportunities to lead the EU-funded research projects. I haven't heard of NIHR funding anyone outside UK ever, but maybe there would be matching funding opportunities. Maybe grant monies would appear via DFID. Those of us with economics background predict the money disappearing into a giant pot to fund housing & frontline NHS services, not blue sky thinking. I work now on NIHR-funded grant and our research needs to be highly relevant to UK-narrow interest... but maybe DFID could pick up some slack for international issues, who knows. EU likes to think BIG, about big long term issues and trends, in what it funds. EU has more ability to avoid any short-term narrow political agenda. NIHR has to think here and now and gets punched around by domestic political agenda.

At best, Brexit looks like a giant pointless hassle.

Y0uCann0tBeSer10us Fri 17-Jun-16 19:22:53

That's interesting Med - I don't know anyone funded by the EU, but I think this is probably very sector specific. As mentioned up-thread I think things like Horizon 2020 are open to a variety of countries not necessarily in the EU - is this your experience? I think big funding organisations like Wellcome and MRC fund outside the UK and encourage international collaboration as well as blue sky thinking btw, and I'm not aware of any political agenda.

I should add that I'm not 'openly leave' either. Very few people even talk about it where I am, but those who do can be quite aggressive (as in an 'all brexiteers are small minded racists who don't understand the facts' kind of way) and it's just not worth the hassle. I do suspect a few others might vote leave too though.

MedSchoolRat Fri 17-Jun-16 19:42:53

If the £1bn/yr from EU was ringfenced to go back to UK research that would be some reassurance.

Horizon... I know someone who got funding for a project jointly with a south African partner. But most the money is to EU institutions. The lead institution (prestige bonus) must be EU.

Academics/scientists are better paid/educated than UK avg, I imagine those are risk factors for voting STAY.

It's drilled into Academic/scientist heads (and esp. health researchers) to stay with status quo (usual care), unless compelling evidence to change. There is no p<= 0.05 in favour of Brexit.

Y0uCann0tBeSer10us Fri 17-Jun-16 19:54:43

It's interesting to hear about Horizon 2020 as I am aware of it but have no direct experience.

I might agree with you re. mitigating risks if I thought that there was 'status quo' here, but with the EU constantly changing and the Eurozone crisis showing no signs of improving I see it as the risks of staying vs the risks of leaving. I suspect the EU will implode before too long anyway, and think we'll be better off on the outside if and when it does. (And btw I know quite a few scientists/academics who aren't afraid of a little risk - our most ambitious grant proposals have all been pretty risky! :-) )

As the variables on either side are speculation I wouldn''t be happy to put a p value on it ;-)

caroldecker Fri 17-Jun-16 20:22:21

These things need to be done on a global basis, not EU - so Brexit makes no difference

Bookaboo Fri 17-Jun-16 23:12:23

Isn't the NIHR a bit different, doesn't the money that goes into those funding streams come out of the dept. Of health coffers?

medschoolrat good point about the status quo, it's a shame we can't do any studies to find out what would be better! I think it's part of the problem we're all having in deciding. There's no evidence and it all seems very abstract.

We seem to have established that being in the EU isn't necessary for collaboration, but I know we have a lot of academics in health research from EU countries. The way I see it we would still want to find an easy way for those people to be here, in the case of a Brexit.

What about commercial pharma and biotech research? Currently, we work in an EU framework of regulation for trials, which makes it easier for companies to run their trials across Europe. If we left, what might happen to this set up?

MedSchoolRat Sat 18-Jun-16 12:11:56

I don't know answers for sure, either.
NIHR: I imagine politicians decide what % of total NHS budget can go to research. NHS is funded out of general taxation (I think?). Everyone cares more about frontline patient services right now, than research.

I get impression that the admin threshold to get any money out of NIHR is much more odious than getting grants from anyone else (EU is especially far easier to get grants from). A lot of money has to be invested merely in making a good grant application to NIHR, competition extremely fierce.

Pharma research & trials: again, UK can easily be a participating centre but UK centres seem less like to lead a multi-country study. The highest global research impact gets attributed to the Lead centres. I'm inclined to guess that At moment, because UK has > EU-wide standards for research governance, trial conduct, analysis, etc., the overall quality of EU-funded research (even done by UK centres) might slightly decline if UK less often lead institutions. So that could mean lower research impact by UK.

(I imagine) high skill EU workers could come work in UK as easily as high skill non-EU workers do. I wonder if the high skill non-EU category alone currently exceeds 100,000/yr. It is much cheaper to import skilled people than to try to make them ourselves. Academics (mostly) have a very egalitarian ethos, health professionals are drilled to be obsessed with ethics, and social justice is a recurring public health theme (in Britain). So we deplore the idea of brain-draining LMICs to nick their high skills people.

BreakingDad77 Sat 18-Jun-16 21:07:21

DFID could pick up some slack for international issues

DFID aid is now untied I believe - I dont think that has changed.

As mentioned up-thread I think things like Horizon 2020 are open to a variety of countries not necessarily in the EU

I thought I read something about applications from UK being frozen?

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