The government has set out an ambition to accelerate access to innovative medical technologies as part of the first-ever medtech strategy, published last week.

UK patients will benefit from access to safe, effective and innovative equipment, such as the latest generation of home dialysis machines that enable patients to manage their own health at home and in their day-to-day lives.

The medical technology strategy, published on 3 February 2023, sets out steps that need to be taken to ensure patients can access technology through the NHS. This technology can help diagnose, treat and deliver care more quickly, in turn freeing up clinician time.

Minister of State for Health Will Quince said: “The UK’s innovative spirit delivered revolutionary technology during the pandemic – from covid tests and ventilators – and we want to harness this in promoting cutting-edge medical advancements to improve patient care.

“The NHS spends around £10 billion a year on medical technology and I’m looking forward to working with industry to use this as we focus on reducing hospital stays, enhancing diagnosis, preventing illness and freeing up staff time.

“This new medtech strategy will help build a sustainable NHS with patients at the centre so people can continue to access the right care at the right time.”

The strategy highlights the following four priority areas:

  • Ensuring resilience and continuity of supply of medtech products
  • Supporting innovation and encouraging thriving, dynamic markets
  • Developing enabling infrastructure
  • Specific focuses on key issues and markets

The 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 help build resilient supply chains and ensure the UK is prepared for future pandemics, in light of the demand for technology like syringes and ventilators rapidly increasing during the pandemic.

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.

Dr Sam Roberts of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said: “It is essential that clinicians and patients can access the most impactful and cost-effective medical technologies, while medtech companies need to be confident that they are developing products which meet the needs of patients and the NHS.

“This strategy sets out a clear vision for the future. NICE is excited to be part of the delivery of this vision, working with our partners to further develop world leading processes to provide a sustainable pathway for medical technologies, from innovation to implementation.”

The importance of delivering value for money when it comes to health technologies has been a long-standing priority for NICE. A year ago, we reported that its board was expected to approve changes to the way medicines and other health technologies are evaluated in the NHS.

In what was one of the largest and most comprehensive reviews of all aspects into NICE’s health technology evaluations, the proposed changes were said to give far greater flexibility over decisions about value for money, something the new medtech strategy aims to deliver.