New funding mandate for UK health tech to be introduced in 2020, says health minister Nicola Blackwood

A new funding mandate for health tech will be introduced in 2020, according to health minister Nicola Blackwood.

Speaking at the Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI) conference in London yesterday (13 June), the Baroness said it was important to ensure the life science sector “continues to support innovative health tech SMEs to grow into scale companies to benefit the NHS, patients and the wider UK economy”.

To achieve this, she said, the government would create “a finance innovation ecosystem which promotes collaboration between the NHS and industry, to ensure new technologies meet NHS priorities and therefore have a ready-made market within the UK”.

This health tech funding mandate will be delivered as part of the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC), an umbrella organisation across the UK health innovation eco-system, which brings together NHS and industry partners.

The AAC will create a system that works together to identify the best new innovations and signal the needs of patients and clinicians to industry. It will also support early and flexible engagement on commercial arrangements to align innovation policy with trusts and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).

Baroness Blackwood said the AAC will support health tech testing by developing “a seamless and efficient testing and approvals process for new innovations, so that gaps and inconsistencies are removed as products move across the system”.  

“The combination of a health tech funding mandate and a globally leading testing infrastructure will ensure the best new innovations get into the NHS, and to patients, faster,” she said.

She added that the ACC was continuing to support “the best new products”, such as making pre-eclampsia tests more widely available.

Over the last three years, Baroness Blackwood said the government has invested more than $126m to support health tech development and adoption. This includes more than $37m invested in the Digital Health Technology Catalyst, a fund being run over four years to develop digital health solutions.

She said that NHSX, the new unit for digital, data and technology, was “already working hard to develop more open data standards, improve procurement practices and ensure the NHS has the digital skills it needs for the future”.

Last week NHS England announced the latest tests, procedures and treatments to be supported with $23.9 million in funding through the Innovative Technology Programme (ITP).

“More than 300,000 patients have already benefited from access to treatments through the programme and these exciting new technologies will benefit over 400,000 more,” said Baroness Blackwood.

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