What Priority For Liverpool Hospitals As Part Of The Northern Big Science Community?

Liverpool’s leading university hospitals are at risk of physical dispersal at exactly the same time that eight top universities across the North of England are trying to find ways to build their scientific synergies. The implications for Liverpool of the threat of dispersal seem so far not to be appreciated.
The news today is patchy. On one hand, we learn that the Northern Way has appointed an eminent cancer specialist to lead the N8 consortium, a scientific collaboration led by the University of Liverpool between eight universities from the North of England.
Called the Northern Research Partnership, the N8 consortium is a collaboration between Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York, which between them generate more than £620m per annum in research grants. N8 is concrete evidence that the three regional development agencies in the North of England are now actively getting their scientific act together.
Yet also today we read in the local paper that plans to expand the Royal Liverpool University Hospital on its present site – a project which has secured £500m of funding – may not be going ahead because the will is may not be there to find another way to take forward the local council’s £12m Hall Lane bypass scheme, which is part of the intended improvements to the City-M62 link route.
Add to this the apparent reluctance to secure huge improvements on their current site to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, and you do begin to wonder if the city understands that these hospitals are places of learning at the cutting edge of international research, as well of course as places where people can receive first class medical care.
It’s far less important for the future to allocate responsibility for who said what about these proposals, and when, than it is to find a way forward.
These hospitals need to be linked closely with the university and the Medical School; they need to nurture their community of practitioners; the ‘common room / photocopier’ effect is crucial here. If people at the cutting edge are dispersed, there is a danger that their impact will be likewise weakened; and there are also enormous implications here for investment and big business in Liverpool.
If eight universities across the whole of the North of England can recognise the benefits of getting together, surely there is a way, before it’s too late, that two hugely important Liverpool hospitals and a Medical School can be enabled in a much more intimate physical setting to do the same?

Posted on October 13, 2005, in Education, Health And Welfare, Knowledge Ecology And Economy, Liverpool And Merseyside, Politics, Policies And Process, Regeneration, Renewal And Resilience, Science Politics And Policy. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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