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25
Sep

Call for innovation


As the NHS approaches 70, the Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, says it is time to unleash the potential of innovation to transform patient care

Speaking at the Expo Conference in Manchester recently, Simon Stevens set an ambitious vision for the NHS, as it approaches its landmark 70th anniversary. He called on health and care leaders to unleash the game changing potential of innovation for both patients and taxpayers. He unveiled plans to free up funds for the latest world class treatments by slashing hundreds of millions from the nation’s drugs bill and announced that new and cutting edge treatments will be routinely available for the first time.

Innovations include:

  • Revolutionary new treatment for Hepatitis C, set to save NHS England more than £50 million as well as saving thousands more lives
  • New measures to slash up to another £300 million from the nation’s medicines bill
  • Trailblazing new treatment to restore sight using patients’ own teeth
  • Routine commissioning of the latest technology to help deaf children hear
  • An expansion of the test-bed programme testing the treatments and care models of tomorrow.

Stevens highlighted the new oral treatment for Hepatitis C that can speed up cure and reduce side effects as the latest in a series of innovative drug deals that has been made possible by NHS England working closely with industry to bring prices down, expand treatment options and make new treatments available rapidly – in one case within just four weeks of a treatment receiving its marketing authorisation.
New rules on the use of 'biosimilar' medicines will also give doctors a choice of new treatments for thousands of patients with serious and painful conditions. Biosimilar medicines are cheaper, but equally clinically effective as the original 'biological' treatments. Currently six of the top 10 drugs in the UK by cost are biological medicines – the most complex and therefore expensive used in the NHS. The plans to accelerate and widen the uptake of biosimilars will save hundreds of millions of pounds from the nation’s medicine bill, estimated to be up to £300m a year by 2021.

Simon Stevens says: “The NHS has a proud history of innovation. As our 70th anniversary approaches it is important that we do not just celebrate these often unsung achievements but also unleash the full potential of innovation in treatment and commissioning to ensure we deliver high quality healthcare for future generations.”

He also signalled NHS England’s intent to continue to develop the successful Test Bed Programme as the NHS goes into its 70th year. Seven sites have been working with 40 innovators, 51 digital technology products, eight evaluation teams and five voluntary sector organisations to understand which products and processes can save and transform lives, at the same or lower cost than current practice.
In the coming years, more biological medicines are set to lose patent exclusivity and more biosimilar medicines are expected to come into the marketplace. The introduction of lower cost biosimilar medicines has the dual advantage of also driving down the cost of the original drug.

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