I’m delighted to have the opportunity to introduce this new strategy from the Human Tissue Authority, especially one that outlines such bold aspirations.
The HTA’s Strategy 2018 – 2021 establishes the Authority’s overarching approach and objectives for the next three years. It has been developed following a comprehensive review of the extent to which we achieve our overall aim: that of protecting public and professional confidence in the use of human tissue.
This strategy builds on the aims and achievements of the Strategy 2016-2019 and, of course, the lessons learned from over a decade’s experience of regulating organisations that work with human bodies, organs, and other tissue. Above all else, it seeks to mould the HTA into a more sustainable, resilient, and agile regulator; one that is aligned to the needs and demands of the ever changing environment in which we operate. Finally, it responds to the outlook of the wider public, who justifiably expect assurances as to how human tissue is treated and used.
In order to maintain public confidence in the system, and to ensure we remain an effective regulator, we must reflect and react to the speed of change and innovation of science and technology across the areas we regulate.
This is especially critical in the field of life sciences, where Britain is a world leader. The Government’s Industrial Strategy has singled out life sciences for an ambitious programme of investment and innovation and the HTA has a crucial role to play in this. Through its agile and responsive approach we must maintain oversight on the quality and safety of cells and tissue, and act to enable, rather than hinder, safe and ethical innovation.
It is clear from the comprehensive review recently conducted by the HTA that the clarity and certainty created by an effective, right touch regulator plays an essential role in unlocking investment and growth in innovative sectors. Our new Codes of Practice are central to this mission.
The fundamental principle of consent is central to our work, and our guiding principles continue to underpin our regulatory framework. In addition to our statutory role, we are increasingly called upon to provide guidance on areas related to our remit, but not specified under the Human Tissue Act. This is particularly important in areas of emerging technology and cutting-edge research that was not originally envisaged when the HTA was established.
One year on since we launched our new Codes of Practice, we would urge anyone working with materials originating from people, whether their work falls under the remit of HTA legislation or not, to read our Code of Practice A: Guiding Principles and the Fundamental Principle of Consent.
We have a strong track record of working closely with partner organisations, and the positive feedback we have received from our licence-holders is testament to our collaborative approach. As are our dedicated and expert staff, who are the ones that will drive and implement this strategy, ensuring its success. That is why this strategy also emphasises both how we recruit and retain high quality staff to undertake and oversee this crucial work and the need to undertake digital transformation at the HTA so they have the information and resources they need.
I look forward to continuing to build on our previous successes in my first year as Chair.