Fast-track scheme for ‘breakthrough’ technology could speed up NHS adoption by four years

Government puts £86m funding into programme to accelerate health-service adoption of innovative medicines and tech

The government is to launch a new fast-track scheme that could see the best new medical technologies deployed in the NHS four years quicker than they are currently.

In April, the government will launch an “accelerated access pathway”, which aims to allow the most innovative new technologies and medicines to be sped through the NHS’s evaluation and financial-approval process. This could mean new ways of treating conditions such as cancer, dementia, and diabetes are offered to patients as much as four years sooner than they would otherwise have been, the government said.

Products designated as “breakthrough” treatments will receive support with development, and also with going through the various approval processes that need to be successfully negotiated before NHS bodies are allowed to buy and deploy new products.

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The government is also providing £86m of funding “to help innovators of all sizes gain access to the NHS market”, and ensure the best new technologies get to patients faster. Included in this is a four-year, £35m package aimed at helping SMEs in the digital space “build a stronger evidence base for their products”. A further £6m will be invested in helping companies from the “medtech, diagnostics, and pharmaceutical” sectors do the same.

Another £6m is to be committed to assisting clinicians in rolling out new technologies and medicines in their day-to-day operations. Some £39m, meanwhile, will go towards helping 15 regional Academic Health Science Networks “encourage grassroots adoption and uptake of new medical technologies”.

Health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy said: “I want the UK to be the best place in the world to develop new drugs and medical technology. But, despite the innovation happening here, our uptake in the NHS can be too slow. Today’s new measures will not only benefit patients by improving how quickly and easily we can get innovative products from the lab to the bedside, but will guarantee future collaboration between the life-sciences sector and the NHS, post-Brexit – benefitting the British economy, and creating jobs.”


Sam Trendall

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