West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas says that speeding up the process of introducing new life-saving technologies into the UK’s healthcare system would have a massive effect on the health of large numbers of patients and produce significant savings for the NHS.
Mr Thomas spoke in the House of Commons recently to urge support for the recommendations made by the Accelerated Access Review which has looked at how technologies for a range of medical conditions are being introduced into the NHS.
In particular he highlighted the situation which means that it can take up to six years from first testing a health technology to the time it is formally commissioned by the NHS.
In 2013, a programme was launched for six technologies covering a range of conditions including procedures to help prevent strokes, help improve the mobility of children with cerebral palsy, patients with heart failure and procedures to improve radiotherapy in lung and liver cancer.
The programme’s evidence development phase, when patients receive the treatments and the data is collected, has now been completed but NHS England say that no formal commissioning policies will be in place before 2019.
Mr Thomas said a ‘commissioning through evaluation’ type system would dramatically speed up the process as currently, patients who might enjoy an immediate benefit from the procedures now face the prospect of a two-year wait.
“One example is selective dorsal rhizotomy, a procedure that supports children with cerebral palsy to have increased mobility in later life,” he said.
“There is a narrow window in a child’s development when they can receive the treatment, and a two-year gap in commissioning will mean some children will never be able to benefit from this procedure.
“There is also another procedure which helps stop blood clots travelling from the heart to the brain and causing a stroke. Many patients will now be left at a greatly increased risk of a stroke.”
Mr Thomas said the Government should urge the NHS to give patients access to all the technologies by ensuring a rapid and transparent decision making process and ensure patient access to these technologies throughout the assessment phase by continuing to fund the procedures until they are formally commissioned by the NHS.
“Following the recommendations of the Accelerated Access Review will not only improve both health outcomes for patients and NHS productivity, it will also help to ensure the UK remains a destination for life sciences,” he added.