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At our latest Health Tech Alliance members’ meeting, attendees had the fascinating experience of hearing first-hand from former Health Minister Lord O’Shaughnessy, about his ambitions for the UK’s growing life sciences sector.

During his time as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Lord O’Shaughnessy led on NHS innovation, digital and technology and was therefore able to give a candid overview of his predictions for the sector, as well as plenty of valuable advice for industry. He discussed with members the importance of academia, industry and Government working together at early stages of product and therapy development in order to create affordable and accessible propositions. He also spoke optimistically of the current opportunities for the life sciences industry and healthtech in particular, highlighting Government commitments through the Grand Ageing Challenge and policy initiatives such as the Life Sciences Sector Deals.

Lord O’Shaughnessy also spoke optimistically of the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) which has been newly refreshed with Dr Sam Roberts, Director of Innovation and Life Sciences at NHS England appointed as Chief Executive. Members had the pleasure of hearing from Dr Roberts at the September 2018 meeting. The AAC will now provide a single horizon-scanning platform with a broad remit and a dedicated body of staff sat within NHS England.

He also highlighted to members the importance of harnessing data for patient benefit and the need to utilise health data in a secure, safe and legal environment while maintaining public trust. The former Minister was full of praise for the UK’s flourishing life sciences sector and advised industry to ensure that their products and services were aligned with the health service in order to ensure greater adoption and spread.

Members also heard from NIHR’s Helen Compton, who sits on the NHS Production Adoption Oversight Group. Helen, whose regular attendance at Health Tech Alliance meetings allows companies to gain clearer insight into the workings of NIHR, spoke about the impact of the AAC and its recent progress. While industry awaits clarity on the criteria for products seeking to be chosen as part of the Accelerated Access Pathway, a group of ‘Rapid Uptake’ products have already been given designation for spread and rapid adoption. Helen also spoke about the importance of industry gathering real world evidence, but admitted to members the difficulty in gathering, utilising and quantifying it.

As well as fascinating discussions with both our key speakers, members from across industry, research, hospital management and the health service itself engaged with one another to discuss the key market access obstacles facing healthtech. For more information on how to get involved and attend our meetings, contact secretariat@healthtechalliance.uk