The Government still does not get it when it comes to funding medical research into asbestos related diseases. Today in the House of Lords in hour long debate the Government reiterated its previous proposals, which mostly revolve around encouragement for research proposals being made to existing funding sources. As I have previously said, this fails to address the core fact that research into asbestos diseases is starting from a very low base, due to the lack of funding for such research over decades. There needs to be a fundamental step change, and merely putting asbestos research proposals on a level playing field in open competition with other medical research proposals will not achieve that step change. The only new dedicated money for asbestos research work out of today’s debate, came when Earl Howe for the Government said that Government Minister Mike Penning’s discussions with the insurance industry, namely the ABI, had borne fruit, and they would be giving the British Lung Foundation £250,000.
This tiny sum, for that is what it is, needs to be seen against the background of what the Government has just done for the insurance industry in regards to mesothelioma. In previous posts I pointed out that the combined Mesothelioma Bill and LASPO provisions are likely to be net financially beneficial to the insurance industry, so the £250,000 is quite frankly an insult to asbestos victims, and it also shows out of this Government and the insurance industry who is really running the show.
I reiterate – it is time for the Government to come up with hard, dedicated cash. Cash that researchers know is there for one purpose. Such cash needs to be sustainable. That is, it needs to be long term, to ensure that just as results are being achieved, the cash does not dry up.