Future of FAST in doubt
The future of the Foundation for Assistive Technology is in jeopardy following a Department of Health proposal to end its contract with the organisation to produce the Annual Parliamentary Report on Assistive Technology Research and Development.
The report has been compiled annually by FAST for 15 years and is regarded at the bible of AT research in the UK. It involves tracking some 600 research projects and reporting on up to 220 new ones each year. This detailed publication covers ICT, environmental controls, telecare, mobility access and prosthetics. In recent years it has been instrumental in ensuring a greater pull through from research to products.
By detailing the future needs of disabled people FAST has prompted future research, but that important contribution to the sector is threatened. Without funding from the report, FAST looks unlikely to be able to carry on. Its role as a clearing house for information about AT research will be lost.
The Department of Health plans to produce the Annual Parliamentary Report in house but on a smaller scale. BATA urges health minister Norman Lamb to think again before axing a valuable service in an area where there are already very limited resources.