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UCLPartners supports ambitions to make the UK a world-leader in healthcare innovation

24 October 2016

A national report launches today (24 October) with clear recommendations to the UK government on reforms to speed up patients’ access to innovative medicines, technologies and products.   The aim is to make the UK the best place in the world to design, develop and deliver healthcare innovations, with an NHS that embraces the new drugs and technologies that patients need.

Supported by and developed with the AHSN Network, the Accelerated Access Review proposes reforms to the UK health and care system and how it works with industry to address the barriers to adopting innovation.  The NHS has huge potential to be creative and innovative yet the system as a whole is slow to adopt new ideas and best practice.  This leads to avoidable variation in patient care and system inefficiencies.

The report offers practical system changes, welcomed by UCLPartners and the AHSN Network, that will result in real benefits to patients, clinicians, the NHS and the wider UK economy.  The report says streamlined processes could bring forward patient access to drugs by up to four years and patients will benefit from quicker access to medical technologies too.  It also recommends a simpler process for digital technologies which are often developed by smaller companies, such as healthcare apps for managing long-term conditions.

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Elements that will be supported by the AHSN Network include creating an improved pathway for getting new medical technologies, diagnostics and digital products into the NHS at pace.  This builds on the successful NHS Innovation Accelerator, which in its first year has supported the adoption of innovation into 388 NHS organisations and helped secure more than £17m investment to help scale health innovation.

These innovations supported by the AHSN Network are already making a positive impact on people’s lives and are reducing costs in the NHS.  Sleepio is a digital sleep improvement programme that is being introduced to patients across the NHS with the help of the AHSN Network.  It is available via web and mobile and is clinically proven to help overcome long-term poor sleep. People using Sleepio have an average reduction in time to fall asleep of 50% and time spent awake at night reduced by 60%. It is also proven to support people with anxiety and depression, with 68% of users moving to recovery.  Costs per course are 70% lower than equivalent psychological therapy and the cost per outcome in treating depression and anxiety using Sleepio is just 22% of the current standard of care.

Another example is episcissors-60: fixed angle scissors designed to take away human error in estimating episiotomy angles during childbirth. The scissors reduce the risk of obstetric injuries by up to 20%, which can have a devastating impact on the quality of a new mother’s life.  Trials suggest the use of scissors will create millions in savings to the NHS.

Other elements supported by the AHSN Network include creating mutually beneficial partnerships between medtech, digital and pharmaceutical industries and the NHS to address local health needs.

Dr Charlie Davie, Interim Managing Director of UCLPartners, said: “This review shows how everyone across the health care spectrum, not least patients, can embrace innovation and transform the health and wellbeing of the population.   At UCLPartners we have a real commitment to create lasting relationships between the NHS, academic and industry partners and we see this as a major opportunity to improve patient outcomes in new and innovative ways.  We look forward to hearing the government’s response in due course.”

Dr Liz Mear, Chair AHSN Network, said: “The AHSN Network has huge expertise through its connections across the NHS, academia and industry to deliver innovation at scale across the country.   This is having a real impact in improving lives, saving money and driving economic growth.

As a network we’ve had a central role in informing the Accelerated Access Review and we welcome and support its publication.  The review is fundamental in joining up all the great work that’s happening in health and care to ensure that patients across the country have faster access to the latest treatments and technologies.”

Health Minister Lord Prior said:  “This Government has a strong commitment to the life sciences and to building a long-term partnership with the life sciences industry. We are determined to make the UK the best place in the world to develop new drugs and other products that can transform the health of patients.

“The report provides us with a strong basis to make the right decisions about how the health system can be adapted to meet the challenges of the future, attract inward investment, grow the thriving life science industry and use innovation to improve patient outcomes and tackle the financial pressures on the NHS.”