Medical Technology Group research calls for debate around NHS rationing as it is revealed half a billion pounds could be saved if longer-term view to procurement is taken
The high upfront cost of innovative new medical technologies is limiting patient access and creating a false economy in which the NHS is plumping for cheaper, less-effective solutions.
This claim is made in a new report by the Medical Technology Group (MTG).
Medical technology has an enormous impact, both in terms of the quality of life that it offers patients and in the cost savings to the health service and the wider economy
Entitled Keeping Britain Working - How medical technology can help reduce the cost of ill health to the UK economy; the report concludes that £476m in savings could be generated from the use of eight novel technologies through reduced long-term health costs and benefit payments.
If that money was put back into the NHS it would pay for 20,000 nurses or 10.5 million GP visits.
Barbara Harpham, chairman of the Medical Technology Group, said of the findings: “Medical technology has an enormous impact, both in terms of the quality of life that it offers patients and in the cost savings to the health service and the wider economy.
“Very often a single procedure can get a patient back to work or caring for their family and can instantly eliminate thousands of pounds in longer-term treatment or unplanned admissions. In fact, we have not yet tapped into the full potential of all the medical technology currently available.”
But she warned: “The trouble is that the upfront cost of medical technology often means patient access is being limited and cheaper short-term solutions being chosen; in other words, a false economy.
“With the NHS budget under increasing pressure, it’s time we rethink the approach to rationing medical treatments that gives people back their lives.
“It may look good on paper in this budget year, but doesn’t benefit patients and costs the health service more in the long run.”
The report shows that just over a fifth of the projected savings (22%) comes from coronary angioplasty, also known as percutaneous coronary interventions, or PCI.
The trouble is that the upfront cost of medical technology often means patient access is being limited and cheaper short-term solutions being chosen; in other words, a false economy
Almost 100,000 (96,143) PCI procedures were carried out in 2015, with 36% in people aged below 60.
As 93% of patients in employment return to the workplace after a PCI, this means that 32,456 patients became economically active again.
When multiplied by the cost of Jobseeker’s Allowance – at £3,801 a year – the savings in benefits alone are £123.3m a year. This is replicated every year for the rest of a patient’s working life.
PCI is one of eight areas highlighted in the report to illustrate the value that medical technology delivers and its potential to help the NHS balance its books.
The study also examined data for hip replacements; implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs); insulin pumps; diagnostics, including sepsis; fibroid embolisation; pain management; and wound care.
The MTG report builds on data from a study by the Work Foundation in 2011. The research concluded that the UK economy saved £90m year by using three medical technologies: hip replacements; insulin pumps; and ICDs.
Other findings from the MTG’s 2017 report include:
MTG is now calling for a debate on the approach to the uptake and use of medical technology, and is calling for the NHS to: