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Government pumps £10m into faster patient access to medtech

The funding aims to give developers support to rapidly develop innovative technologies that can address unmet clinical needs

The government has launched a £10m fund to help suppliers create innovative medical technologies that can be quickly introduced to the NHS.

The funding for the Innovative Devices Access Pathway (IDAP) will allow manufacturers and innovators to apply for targeted support and advice on how to create products that will be adopted by the NHS.

The aim is to have an integrated support service that will give developers enhanced opportunities and take the uncertainty out of the route to NHS access.

This support could include a targeted product roadmap, system navigation advice, scientific advice, safe-harbour meetings to discuss NHS adoption, and exceptional use authorisation granted by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).  

In May 2023, the government announced its intention to launch the access pathway, and the pilot phase is now open for expressions of interest.

The aim is to support speedy development of technologies that can be adopted by the health service and to address clinical needs for patients and healthcare professionals that are currently unmet, while also being uncompromising on standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

David Lawson, director of medical technology at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), said the launch of the IDAP marked an “important step forward in the implementation of the Medical Technology Strategy, published in February this year”, which set out plans to develop an end-to-end pathway for innovation.

“It signals our commitment to move towards a rules-based pathway which will ensure the adoption of specialty innovative medical technology into the NHS, helping to benefit patient outcomes,” he said.

“The IDAP showcases our internationally respected regulatory and guidance bodies and the tailored support on offer for technologies that meet the specific needs of the NHS.”

The IDAP is a collaboration between the DHSC, Health Technology Wales, MHRA, the NHS, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the Office for Life Sciences (OLS), and the Scottish Health Technologies Group (SHTG).

Those who want to apply for the pathway cannot have devices that have already received regulatory approval, but will need to demonstrate a proof of concept. They must also have sought clinical input from at least one health organisation or medical charity.

Once the IDAP is up and running, lessons learned from the pilot will be used to help develpp the future IDAP as an end-to-end framework that supports innovators to gain evidence for regulatory approval, assessments and patient access in the NHS.

Marc Bailey, MHRA chief science and innovation officer, said the launch marks an “exciting step in accelerating the delivery of cutting-edge medical technologies safely to patients across the UK”.

“The insights gained during the pilot phase will be crucial in shaping the future direction of this new pathway,” he said. “We encourage medical technology innovators in the UK and abroad to submit their applications and benefit from this combined support service. By working together, we can fast-track access to the most advanced technologies for those in urgent need.”

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