Industry data reveals UK patients risk missing out on life-saving HealthTech

Persistent regulatory ambiguity and NHS procurement processes are risking the deprioritisation of the UK market for HealthTech innovation, the latest survey of the industry can reveal.

The data, captured by the Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI) and CPI, highlights that these barriers are now having a tangible impact on the ability of the sector to bring HealthTech to the UK. 

The regulatory uncertainty experienced has now led to almost half of businesses removing products from the UK market, and over a third of companies have chosen not to bid on specific tenders due to unworkable procurement requirements. Challenges have also been compounded by cost pressures to businesses, with over 77% of respondents highlighting that the cost to serve the NHS had increased over the last year.

Despite these challenges, companies do rate the UK as highly as anywhere in the world in the willingness of the health system to collaborate with industry. There has been a notable shift here against surveys in previous years, and the work that Roland Sinker is leading on the NHS Innovation Ecosystem Programme provides an opportunity to build on this. Changes are, however, needed to realise the full value of HealthTech, which has been recognised by the Government as a key driver for the improvement of the health and wealth of the UK. 

The recently announced £520m for Life Sciences manufacturing could offer some of the bespoke support the sector requires. The survey’s data findings also indicate positive sentiment towards early-stage research support, elements of the local skills base and the opportunity that AI presents.

To build on these strengths and to cement the UK’s position as a global hub for HealthTech, the accompanying survey report indicates the need to ensure that existing policy commitments are delivered, and the necessary economic, technical and regulatory support is in place to realise such ambitions. 

Peter Ellingworth, Chief Executive, ABHI said: “These issues will not be news to anyone within our industry, and those who work to support it, but what is stark is the level of innovation that is at risk of not reaching UK patients. We operate in a global industry, and if we are serious about making the UK a destination market for HealthTech innovation, as outlined in the Life Sciences Vision, we must do things differently in order to remain competitive. The survey supports that there is a vast opportunity to realise the full potential of the sector and positive work is underway to realise it. We must now deliver procurement structures that recognise value and, whilst there is some optimism about the regulatory direction of travel, industry needs clear timelines in order to plan and invest accordingly.”

Rahul Kapoor, Director of HealthTech, CPI said: “The Life Sciences Vision recognises the UK’s potential for HealthTech industry. However, the industry survey highlights an urgent need for intervention on three key platforms – regulatory clarity, industrial growth, and the NHS opportunity, without which we risk losing a highly value-adding sector and translation of HealthTech research outputs. The Autumn Statement provides support for manufacturing, including HealthTech, but to fully unlock the sector, the UK needs to build a stronger industrial strategy to ensure that it is a global destination for HealthTech industry.”

The survey captures data from HealthTech businesses operating in the UK. Further details, and the full survey report, can be accessed here.

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