NHS England and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have proposed a new route for medical technology developers to access NHS funding to fast-track innovative products for use by the healthcare system.

The plans aim to ensure that more clinically and cost-effective products recommended by NICE can be introduced in the NHS on a large-scale to improve patient outcomes.

They would also provide more certainty for MedTech innovators and suppliers, with a commitment to automatic funding to support routine commissioning for those technologies that meet a required criterion.

Feedback on the proposals is being sought from patients, clinicians, academics, and industry and can be submitted via the consultation webpage. The 12-week consultation opened on 23 May 2024 and will close at midnight on 15 August.

In an announcement published on 23 May 2024, Dr Vin Diwakar, interim medical director for transformation at NHSE, said: “Medical technology plays a vital role in the nation’s health and these proposals outline how we can fully maximise its use for the benefits of patients.

“We are eager to hear from patients, industry, clinicians and the public to help us develop and shape the MedTech pathway to ensure it can provide the greatest clinical and cost-effective benefit, so please come forward with your views.”

The proposals have been developed by NHSE and NICE with input from the Department of Health and Social Care and other partners, including the Office for Life Science and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

Mark Chapman, director of the Health Technologies Programme at NICE, said: “The speed of change and the sheer number of new products being brought to market within the MedTech world has determined the need for a clear pathway to ensure that the most promising new and or transformative technologies recommended by NICE can be adopted at scale by the NHS within a timely manner.”

“This new pathway aims to ensure that patients in every area of the country can benefit from the best products, devices, digital technologies, or a diagnostic innovation.

“It will bring clarity to MedTech developers, giving them a clear route to accessing NHS funding, in the same way the pharmaceutical industry currently benefits from,” Chapman added.

The proposals are intended to strengthen the NHS Long Term Plan’s commitment to accelerate the uptake of selected innovative medical devices, diagnostics, and digital products.

Recent MedTech equipment introduced to the NHS includes a laser fibre that vaporises enlarged prostatic tissue and a device called Spectra Optia, which separates and removes sickle red blood cells from the patient’s blood using continuous flow and centrifugation.