Severe budget restrictions loom
A report by the NHS Confederation (www.nhsconfed.org ) has revealed that the National Health Service (NHS) will suffer the most sustained and severe financial shortfall in its history because of an expected reduction in funding between 2011 and 2014. The report warned that any modest cash increases could be outstripped by rising costs. The NHS in England is expected to face a real-terms cut of £8 to £10 billion throughout the three-year period, and the report concluded that the heath service in England will not survive if it remains unchanged.
Follow the Blueprint
The recently published Life Sciences Blueprint (www.dius.gov.uk/innovation/business_support/~/.../ols-blueprint ) has been welcomed by the UK’s life sciences trade associations. Some of the most significant measures in the Blueprint are an Innovation Pass to be piloted in 2010/2011 with a budget of £25 million, which will allow patients faster access to innovative medicines, and the establishment of NHS accountability aimed at driving the uptake and diffusion of innovative medicines and technologies. The creation of a Strategic Health Authority Delivery Group will also improve engagement between industry and the NHS.
Technology to meet demand
Products that save staff time and deliver greater quality and efficiency are what the NHS needs. Professor Bernard Crump, Chief Executive Officer of the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement (www.institute.nhs.uk ) said, “NHS clinicians and managers will need to find solutions that are smarter and more innovative. But we must clear up any misconception that there’s a conflict between increasing quality and static budgets. People tend to think that increasing quality has a cost implication, but in fact, in our experience, productivity and quality go hand in hand. Right first time, high quality clinical services are the most cost-effective. NHS trusts still have time before 2011 to find the quality improvements which will unlock productivity savings that will most benefit their patients.”
The Medical Technology Group, a coalition of manufacturers and patients, said, “We welcome the call for radical action to improve uptake of medical technologies ... as the UK lags behind much of Europe. For example, less than 4% of patients with Type 1 diabetes in the UK use insulin pumps compared with at least 20% in most EU countries ...” (www.mtg.org.uk  ).