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Integrated care systems (ICSs) across England can now bid for their share of £30m to invest in medical technologies.
The government hopes the funding will help reduce NHS winter pressures, cut waiting lists and speed up diagnoses.
The funding can be used on a range of technologies, including wearable medical devices for patients to use at home, the expansion of virtual wards, digital 3D imaging technologies and drones.
Health and social care secretary Steve Barclay said it was vital that clinicians “have access to the latest technology to save staff time, deliver high-quality care and help cut waiting lists – one of the government’s top five priorities”.
“This investment will see the latest tech innovations rolled out across the NHS. From virtual ward beds to wearable medical devices, patients will be better supported, and we will ease pressures on hospitals this winter,” he said.
“We’re preparing for this winter earlier than ever before, including delivering thousands more hospital beds and hundreds of new ambulances.”
In early 2023, the government’s virtual ward programme set a target of creating an additional 10,000 virtual ward beds across England – a target that has now been achieved.
So far, more than 240,000 patients have been treated on virtual wards, which gives patients hospital-level care at home, where they see a clinician on either a “virtual ward round” or an in-person visit, as well as using medical devices and apps.
Commenting on the funding, NHS interim national director of transformation Vin Diwakar said: “The NHS’s world-leading ability to adopt new technology has already helped more than 210,000 patients be treated in their own homes through the roll-out of virtual wards, and this new funding will allow the health service to adopt more innovations that improve patient care and reduce pressure on wider services.”
In Slough, Frimley Health and Care Integrated Care System has been using a range of medtech to help patients manage their blood pressure at home. Through digital blood pressure monitors, texts and online health records, GPs in the area have significantly reduced pressure on administrative staff and increased the number of patients with controlled blood pressure.
In June 2023, as part of its celebration of the NHS’s 75th anniversary, the government announced a £21m artificial intelligence (AI) diagnostic fund, to buy and deploy imaging and decision-support tools to help diagnose patients more quickly for conditions such as cancers, strokes and heart conditions.
The government published its medical technology strategy earlier in 2023, which sets out how the NHS can ensure patients have access to safe, effective and innovative technology.
In September 2023, the government announced 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.
Read more about healthcare and technologies:
- NHS trauma and orthopaedic department deploys head-mounted cameras to livestream surgeon’s-view footage of operations to classroom.
- NHS Shared Business Services is planning on a second iteration of its digital workplace solutions framework before the current one expires in August 2024.
- NHS organisations are encouraged to apply for funding for the wireless trials programme, which aims to explore how cutting-edge tech can improve patient care.