NHS could save £7billion through quick adoption of new diagnostic techniques

New report claims widespread adoption of three new tests – for heart attack, pre-eclampsia and inflammatory bowel disease – will reduce pressures on NHS and help to save billions

The NHS could save over £6.9billion in the next five years through the adoption of new diagnostic tests, research reveals.

In turn, these savings could help tackle the annual NHS shortfall, widely expected to reach £20billion by 2022.

The claims are made in a new document commissioned by Innovate UK and the British In Vitro Diagnostics Association (BIVDA).

More-widespread adoption of just three tests would create major savings for the NHS, the report claims

Patients would benefit from three new tests – for heart attack, pre-eclampsia and inflammatory bowel disease – by reducing unnecessary procedures and medication, while delivering significant NHS savings.

At the moment the tests are used in only a handful of clinics and hospitals, although many health experts predict they would save huge sums if used more widely.

Doris-Ann Williams, BIVDA’s chief executive, said: “While the shake-up of NHS services and funding so often takes the headlines, simply making the most of the tests we already have would result in dramatic savings.”

The report calls on healthcare leaders and policy makers to reassess how these three high-impact examples, along with many other diagnostic technologies available now, could be better deployed within the NHS.

Innovate UK is currently delivering the From Data to Early Diagnosis and Precision Medicine’ Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), investing in new technologies which diagnose disease earlier and reduce patient suffering.

Dr Kath Mackay, Innovate UK interim director for ageing society, health and nutrition, said: “There are so many innovative diagnostic tests on the market and in development.

“It’s important for all stakeholders that we take every opportunity to rapidly adopt tests which show cost savings and benefit to patients.”

While the shake-up of NHS services and funding so often takes the headlines, simply making the most of the tests we already have would result in dramatic savings

The report adds: “If the NHS is to be sustainable in the long-term, then it must make investments which give the highest benefit to patients.

“Could the wider use of modern diagnostic tests save money and improve patient care?

“The answer is ‘yes’. There are numerous in vitro diagnostics (IVDs) on the market which are used in a small number of hospitals or clinics, but if used elsewhere would result in huge savings to the NHS.

“IVDs benefit patients because they offer an accurate, convenient and less-invasive way to diagnose and monitor conditions.

It’s important for all stakeholders that we take every opportunity to rapidly adopt tests which show cost savings and benefit to patients

“This means patients receive timely and appropriate treatment and, in some cases, can avoid the need for invasive tests, unnecessary medication, or hospital admission.

“All these benefits make IVDs convenient and safe for patients. They are also good for the NHS as they can often reduce staff time and costly hospital appointments, allowing resources to be diverted elsewhere.”

Put simply, IVDs are tests performed outside of a person’s body, using samples such as blood or urine.

They test for infection, detect conditions or monitor a person's health to help cure, treat, or prevent disease.

Some are designed for use in the laboratory, while others can be used in GP clinics, pharmacies or even by the patient at home.

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