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New Strategy to Boost Access to Medtech Innovations

UCL

The Government has announced a new strategy to boost access to medtech innovations in the UK, we examine the outlook for the sector and patients from the new plans.

The UK government has recently unveiled its first-ever medical technology (medtech) strategy, aimed at ensuring patients across the country can access innovative medical devices and equipment. The strategy presents a welcome step by the healthcare and life science sectors to improve population health and stimulate the economy.

The plan is to speed up access to innovative technologies that can help diagnose, treat, and deliver care more quickly, freeing up clinician time. The blueprint is also an attempt to establish sustainability throughout the NHS – putting patients at the center, with the right products available at fair prices and in the areas of need.

The key aims of the strategy include boosting the supply of equipment to deliver greater resilience to healthcare challenges, encouraging ambitious, innovative research to secure the UK’s position as a global science superpower, increasing understanding and awareness of medtech by clinicians, and building on the Life Sciences Vision to improve collaboration between the NHS, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The medtech industry in the UK is a significant portion of the life sciences sector – with NHS spending currently around £10 billion a year on medtech including syringes, wheelchairs, cardiac pacemakers, and medical imaging equipment such as X-ray machines.

Potential boost for patients

The new strategy aims to deliver value for money, using the latest data on the effectiveness of new technology to ensure prices are reasonable for the health system. It will also aim to build resilient supply chains and ensure the UK is prepared for future pandemic.

The first waves of the pandemic saw demand for technology like syringes and ventilators increase rapidly in the UK, pushing the Government into supplying PPE contracts. The integrity of these contracts has caused significant debate which the Government will look to avoid in future public health crises.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also demonstrated the importance of fast and accurate diagnostic testing and genome sequencing to process and share results.

Home lateral flow testing showed the potential for increased use of diagnostics outside of formal clinical settings, to support earlier diagnosis and free up staff time.

Using medtech effectively will be critical in reducing waiting lists for treatment caused by the pandemic, as it has the potential to speed up diagnosis and deliver new and improved ways to treat and support patients.

Economic benefit of innovation

The medtech strategy is expected to encourage ambitious, innovative research to secure the UK’s position as a global science superpower and attract vital investment for the UK economy, creating jobs across the country.

In 2021, there were already around 60 different research programs supporting innovative technologies, representing over £1 billion of funding. The new plan will look to increase understanding and awareness of medtech by clinicians, leading to more informed purchasing of new products and delivering better value for taxpayer money and better services for patients.

The medtech industry in the UK is an important part of the country’s economy and provides a significant number of jobs.

The new medtech strategy will help build on the Life Sciences Vision to create an outstanding business environment for HealthTech companies, which are seen as key to delivering exceptional care for people in the UK.

Peter Ellingworth of the Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI) welcomed the publication of the DHSC medtech strategy, saying that HealthTech plays a valuable role in enabling improved outcomes through changing patient pathways as well as productivity and efficiency gains.

Final thought

Overall, the new medtech strategy is a welcome development for the NHS and the UK as a whole. The Government’s plans for patients to have improved access to health innovations can only be a step in the right direction. To alleviate pressures on the NHS, the UK life science sector must achieve its potential – with a more effective relationship with the NHS.

The economic worries for households is also incredibly important. As a huge contributor to the UK economy, the economic benefit of improving access to medtech and other innovations would be a welcome input to a struggling economy – seeing record inflation, hiking interest rates and a cost-of-living crisis.

However, similar strategies have been published before and have not seen real implementation for the health and life science sector. Curia’s NHS Innovation and Life Sciences Commission is working to provide pragmatic, realistic solutions to turn such policy into practice. To hear more about the Commission’s 2022 report, see our launch event with Steve Brine MP, Chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee below:

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