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Government pumps £86m into healthcare tech

Funding package aimed at speeding up use of and access to technology and innovation in the National Health Service

The government has launched an £86m funding package to drive development and uptake of digital technologies and innovation in healthcare.  

The funding, which aims to accelerate access to new technologies in the NHS, is split into four parts, including a £35m “digital health technology catalyst” for innovative companies,which will match-fund firms’ development of technologies to be used by patients.

The Academic Health Science Networks will receive £39m to assess the benefits and support uptake of technologies that are evidence-proven, while small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) focused on “innovative medicines” and devices will be given up to £6m over the next three years to help them run evidence-based testing in NHS trusts.

Ben Moody, head of health and social care at industry body TechUK, described the funding as a “great boost” for innovators in the sector.

“The announcement also recognises that the resources needed to generate evidence to show that a technology is worth reimbursing can be prohibitively difficult for SMEs – so the fund to support evidence generation for innovative devices is particularly welcome,” he said.

A further £6m will go to the Pathway Transformation Fund to help NHS organisations integrate new technologies into their practices.

Health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy said the government wanted NHS patients to receive “world-leading, life-changing treatments as fast as possible”.

“That can’t happen unless we support medical innovation and tear down the barriers – such as speed to market and access to funding – that can get in the way, especially for SMEs,” he said.

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“Our investment in innovation shows how much we value the UK life sciences sector.”

The funding stream has been put together by the Department of Health and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and is part of the government’s plans to take forward recommendations made in the Accelerated Access Review, which asked the government to speed up patient access to technologies.

Last week, the government announced extra investment in NHS data and cyber security.  An initial £21m of capital funding will be targeted at increasing the cyber resilience of major trauma sites as an immediate priority, and improve NHS Digital’s national monitoring and response capabilities.

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