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The Health Tech Alliance’s November meeting could not have been timelier, with the Government’s recent response to the Accelerated Access Review (AAR) giving our members plenty to discuss. Members heard from Miles Scott, Improvement Director at NHS Improvement and Caroline Fenwick from the Office of Life Sciences, both of whom oversee implementation of the AAR at their respective organisations.

Commenting on the event, Dame Barbara Hakin, Chair of the Alliance and former Deputy Chief Executive of NHS England, said “innovation is increasingly important to the quality of patient outcomes and I am therefore delighted to have chaired this event. I thank our speakers for providing some welcome insight into the promising future of innovative medical technologies within the NHS. The Alliance looks forward to working with NHS Improvement and the Office for Life Sciences to ensure that a greater proportion of these transformative technologies are taken up across the health service”.

Members were provided with a useful overview of priorities for implementation of the AAR, and were reassured to hear that the measures outlined in the Government’s response were very much the start of a longer-term plan to boost the uptake of innovation across the health service. There is a hope within both the healthcare system and within industry that lessons will be learnt on the functioning of the Accelerated Access Pathway so that the number of products that can be assisted through this route will increase over time.

There was a clear acknowledgement among both speakers and our members that innovation can hold the key to improving quality over the long-term through reducing costs, improving productivity and tackling unwarranted variations. It was therefore also encouraging to hear that NHS Improvement is increasingly considering long-term solutions to improve productivity, particularly through the Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programme and that across the system, more funding is being put towards supporting research into medical technologies.

Our speakers encouraged industry members to consider patient involvement and patients’ voices; a key part of the Accelerated Access Review, the Government’s response and indeed a key focus of the Accelerated Access Collaborative. They encouraged medical technologies, devices and diagnostic companies to look to the past and learn lessons from previous initiatives, but also look to the future and remember that there will always be new initiatives and rounds of funding to come that will be purposed with spreading the uptake of innovation within the healthcare system.