NICE, NHS England unveil new pathway for medtech


Feedback is being sought on a proposed pathway that aims to accelerate access to new medical technologies by laying out a common set of rules and commissioning principles.

Health technology assessment (HTA) agency NICE has worked with NHS England and other stakeholders, including the MHRA regulatory authority on the plan, which could provide a new route for medtech developers to access NHS funding and fast-track products for use by the healthcare system.

The proposals come a little over a year after the UK government published a new strategy for the medtech sector, which it said has a turnover of £34 billion ($43 billion), contributing £5.4 billion in exports, and employs more than 150,000 people.

That strategy recognised that, for both medtech developers and the NHS, greater consistency and clarity on how to bring innovative products to market is needed, not least because there are currently multiple pathways available and variations in how they are assessed by both NHS commissioning teams and NICE.

“The speed of change and the sheer number of new products being brought to market within the medtech world has determined the need for a clear pathway to ensure that the most promising new and/or transformative technologies recommended by NICE can be adopted at scale by the NHS within a timely manner,” said Mark Chapman, director of NICE’s health technologies programme.

“This new pathway aims to ensure that patients in every area of the country can benefit from the best products, devices, digital technologies, or a diagnostic innovation,” he added. “It will bring clarity to medtech developers, giving them a clear route to accessing NHS funding, in the same way the pharmaceutical industry currently benefits from.”

Recent examples of technologies introduced to the NHS include a laser fibre that vaporises enlarged prostatic tissue and a device that separates and removes sickle red blood cells from the patient’s blood using continuous flow and centrifugation.

NICE said the proposals will strengthen the NHS Long Term Plan’s commitment to accelerate the uptake of selected innovative medical devices, diagnostics, and digital products.

The consultation process is open for 12 weeks, extending until midnight on Thursday 15th August, with feedback sought from patients, clinicians, academics, and the industry. Responses can be submitted here.