Lord O’Shaughnessy, the minister responsible for the uptake of new drugs and medical technologies, confirmed that the Government will respond to the Accelerated Access Review by the end of October
The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health pointed out that the uptake of new, life-changing technologies is a challenge that the government will address in this response, with medtech playing a central role in these plans. O’Shaughnessy pointed to July’s announcement of £86 million to fund the better uptake of technologies as evidence of the Government’s continued commitment to the life sciences sector.
After attending the recent NHS England Health and Care Innovation Expo, Lord O’Shaughnessy reiterated the innovation and diversity found within the UK medtech sector. The challenge moving forward, he stated, is to implement this innovation within the NHS and spread it through the healthcare system. Following the publication of Sir John Bell’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, O’Shaughnessy highlighted that work will now start on a ‘sector deal’ for life sciences which will suggest ideas for supporting the sector but also addressing regulatory barriers to innovation and growth.
The issue of Brexit was also touched on, with Lord O’Shaughnessy assuring industry that the UK will continue to play a leading role both in Europe and around the world. He also stressed the importance of products continuing to reach the UK market as efficiently as they do now.
The UK’s role in raising the standard of notified bodies was also mentioned. Lord O’Shaughnessy raised the point that British notified bodies assess a disproportionately high number of medical devices but also acknowledged the mutually beneficial nature of the UK’s existing relationship with the EU, which has led to NHS patients benefitting from Europe-wide scientific expertise.
Zero tariffs on trade in medtech, continued access to overseas talent and pursuing new trade relationships were among the developments Lord O’Shaughnessy expressed a desire to see as Brexit process progresses. He concluded by expressing the government’s commitment to the medtech sector and his confidence that Brexit would provide new opportunities for the life science industry.