About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

This event took place on Tuesday 28 November. You can watch the recording below.

Advances in medical science promise new leaps forward in human health and longevity — but cutting-edge treatments could prove costly and the NHS may struggle to meet demand. Policymakers have long struggled to find effective levers to tackle wider social and environmental causes of disease. How will they ensure equal access to the benefits of new discoveries and avoid further entrenching health inequalities as modern health advances?

In her Minister for the Future piece, Dame Sally Davies UK Special Envoy on Antimicrobial Resistance and former Chief Medical Officer for England offers up a vision for a National Health Bank designed to protect the country’s most vital asset — the health of our population.

In conversation with Prospect Magazine Editor Alan Rusbridger, Sally joined us to dive deeper into this bold idea. Alongside a panel of experts from the world of health sciences, they explored the future of medicine and why we need to adopt the long view when it comes to our nation’s collective health.

The opinions expressed in this event recording are those of the speaker. For more information, view our full statement on external contributors.



Chair: Alan Rusbridger

Alan Rusbridger is editor of Prospect Magazine. Previously he was editor-in-chief of The Guardian from 1995 to 2015 and then Principal of Lady Margaret Hall at the University of Oxford until 2021. He also chairs the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and sits on the Facebook Oversight Board. During his time at the Guardian, both he and the paper won numerous awards, including the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service Journalism. The Guardian grew from a printed paper with a circulation of 400,000 to a leading digital news organisation with 150m browsers a month around the world. He launched now-profitable editions in Australia and the US as well as a membership scheme which now has 1m Guardian readers paying for content. He was born in Zambia, was educated at Cambridge and lives in London. He is the co-author of the BBC drama, Fields of Gold. He is a keen amateur musician and the author of Play it Again. His memoir of journalism and its future, Breaking News, was published in 2018. His latest book, News and How to Use it, was published in 2020.


Speaker: Dame Sally Davies

Dame Sally Davies is the 40th Master of Trinity College, Cambridge University and the first woman to hold the post. She was appointed as the UK Government’s Special Envoy on AMR in 2019. Dame Sally was the Chief Medical Officer for England and Senior Medical Advisor to the UK Government from 2011-2019. She is a leading figure in global health, having served as a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Executive Board 2014-2016, and as co-convener of the United Nations Inter-Agency Co-ordination Group (IACG) on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), reporting in 2019. In November 2020, Dame Sally was announced as a member of the new UN Global Leaders Group on AMR, serving alongside Heads of State, Ministers and prominent figures from around the world to advocate for action on AMR. In the 2020 New Year Honours, Dame Sally became the second woman to be appointed Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) for services to public health and research, having received her DBE in 2009. She was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 2014 and a member of the National Academy of Medicine, USA in 2015.


Speaker: Alexandra Burns


Alex is interim Director of Discovery, leading Nesta’s Discovery Hub in the strategy department. Alex joined Nesta in February 2023 after a decade in government as a civil servant. Her focus has been on domestic policy issues across a range of roles including as education policy lead in the 10 Downing Street policy unit, private secretary to the Prime Minister during the COVID-19 pandemic, and heading up the ministers’ offices in the Department of Digital, Media, Culture and Sport. She started her time in government as a social research analyst after studying Experimental Psychology, and her love of innovative policy began when she worked on the introduction of standardised packaging for cigarettes in 2015.

Imperial_270417-92 preference_cropped

Responder: Professor Dame Carol Propper


Carol Propper is Professor of Economics at Imperial College Business School in the Department of Economics and Public Policy. Carol was made a Dame in the 2021 New Year Honours in recognition of her public services to health and economics. Her research focuses on the quality of health care delivery and health system productivity and, more broadly, on the design and consequences of incentives for the quality of public services. She was Vice Dean for Faculty and Research at Imperial Business School 2016-19, Co-Director of the Centre for Market and Public Organisation at the University of Bristol 1998-2009 and of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion at London School of Economics 1997-2007. From 2016 she has been Deputy Editor of VOX EU. She is a Fellow of the British Academy, the Academy of Social Sciences and an International Fellow of the National Academy of Medicine and a past President of the Royal Economic Society.


Responder: Professor Martin McKee

Martin McKee is Professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where he was Medical Director from 2015 to 2023. He is also research director of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, a partnership of governments, international agencies, and universities. He is Past President of the European Public Health Association and the British Medical Association. He has been elected to Academia Europaea, the UK Academy of Medical Sciences, and US National Academy of Medicine. In 2005 was made a CBE.

Victoria Betton

Responder: Dr Victoria Betton


An author, podcaster and public speaker, Victoria Betton specialises in people-centred design, systems thinking, digital strategy and adoption which she delivers through her company, PeopleDotCom Ltd and as Practice Director - Human-Centred Design through SmartCo. Victoria is a qualified social worker and coach with 20+ year’s experience in local government, third sector, digital health startups and the NHS. Her latest book, Towards a Digital Health Ecology - NHS Digital Adoption through the COVID-19 Looking Glass is her latest book (Routledge, 2022).