Doctor in futuristic medical concept pressing button

The Government has announced new funding of up to £86 million for UK firms to develop medical breakthroughs.

The package will allow small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop and test new technologies in the NHS. This could include digital technologies to help patients manage their conditions from home instead of a hospital, or to develop new medicines.

Health Minister Lord O’Shaughnessy said: “The Government’s ambition is that NHS patients get world-leading, life-changing treatments as fast as possible. That can’t happen unless we support medical innovation and tear down the barriers – like speed to market and access to funding – that can get in the way, especially for SMEs.”

The funding includes:

• £39 million to the Academic Health Science Networks, enabling them to assess the benefits of new technologies and support NHS uptake of those that deliver real benefits to patients according to the local need

• £35 million Digital Health Technology Catalyst for innovators – this will match-fund the development of digital technologies for use by patients and the NHS

• Up to £6 million over the next three years to help SMEs developing medicines and devices get the evidence they need by testing in the real world, building on existing opportunities such as the Early Access to Medicine Scheme (EAMS)

• £6 million Pathway Transformation Fund, which will help NHS organisations integrate new technologies into everyday practices – this will help overcome more practical obstacles such as training staff on how to use new equipment

Ben Moody, Head of Health and Social Care at techUK, said: “The announcement recognises that the resources needed to generate evidence to show that a technology is worth reimbursing can be prohibitively difficult for SMEs so the fund to support evidence generation for innovative devices is particularly welcome.

British In Vitro Diagnostics Association (BIVDA) Chief Executive, Doris-Ann Williams MBE, said: “BIVDA very much welcomes the Government’s announcement about funding towards practical support for the introduction of new medical technologies into the NHS.

It is a constant source of frustration that implementation of new tests takes years to achieve. It means that not only are people not benefiting from improved diagnosis and disease management but also that the NHS is losing the chance to gain cost efficiencies along clinical pathways.”