NHS focus on reports is failing patients who need life-saving technologies

Medical Technology Group report says time long overdue for NHS to put its money where its mouth is

The Medical Technology Group (MTG) has today launched its latest report on the NHS approach to adopting innovative technologies - and it criticises the service for failing vulnerable patients.

Entitled Déjà Review – what lessons can be learnt from the past?, the report was initially prompted by Sir Hugh Taylor’s much-anticipated NHS review, the Accelerated Access Report of Innovative Medicines and Medical Technologies (AAR), which is expected to be published in the autumn.

The MTG identified 17 different organisations or initiatives that have been launched with the aim of promoting innovation in the NHS over the past 10 years.

It is crucial that the Accelerated Access Review delivers on its recommendations and supports patients to get access to innovative treatments that enable patients to get back control of their health and lives

But the report notes that the NHS has historically and consistently failed to apply any learnings from the previous reviews, including 2011’s much-quoted Innovation, Health and Wealth (IHW).

Despite a series of measures being set out in IHW, NHS leaders have failed to carry through many of the recommendations and have instead moved on to the next initiative - the Accelerated Access Review . The MTG strongly recommends that ministers and NHS officials learn from previous reports and initiatives and commit to the AAR and ensure that in five years’ time we’re not looking back at another failed programme.

Barbara Harpham, chairman of the MTG, said: “It is incredibly frustrating that the NHS continues to spend tens of millions of pounds on talking shops to complete these reports, only for their proposals to wither on the vine when it comes time to implement change.

"It is crucial that the AAR delivers on its recommendations and supports patients to get access to innovative treatments that enable patients to get back control of their health and lives.”

The MTG is hoping the AAR will encourage a new attitude in the NHS that is welcoming and enquiring of innovation and the benefits technologies can offer patients, and which can ultimately reduce strain on budgets by avoiding future costs.

No-one disputes that technology improves patient outcomes and saves money, but clinicians need access to it so that they can then offer it to patients, whose lives may depend on it

The MTG believes that this learning already exists within the NHS and that if it were to apply it across its existing integrated networks the momentum could result in real organisational cohesion. It would also result in a sustainable legacy for the NHS and improved outcomes for many patients who are being failed by the current innovation inertia and lack of appropriate investment.

Harpham said: “No-one disputes that technology improves patient outcomes and saves money, but clinicians need access to it so that they can then offer it to patients, whose lives may depend on it.

“For the NHS to be truly innovative it must overcome the restraints of annual budget cycles linked to ‘siloed’ departments and its managers must actively create and support purchasing and prescribing practices that can speedily and easily enable commissioners and clinicians across the organisation to prioritise pioneering patient solutions.”

The MTG believes that establishing this change of behaviour into the NHS’s organisational mindset will help it find its missing sense of strategic direction and facilitate better cross referencing of knowledge and experiences across the organisation and its stakeholder bodies, saving both time and money.

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