A 3D heart modelling service to rapidly diagnose coronary disease and an advanced blood test which can cut the time it takes to rule out a heart attack by 75% are among a raft of health innovations being introduced for patients.
The Innovation Agency and fellow Academic Health Science Networks are responsible for accelerating the uptake of the technologies across England – with the Innovation Agency focussing on Cheshire, Merseyside, Lancashire and South Cumbria.
New innovations have already reached 300,000 patients, and NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has announced that over 400,000 more will benefit this year from new tests, procedures and treatments as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.
This includes pregnant women getting a new pre-eclampsia test, and cluster headache sufferers getting access to a handheld gadget which uses low levels of electric current to reduce pain.
The new treatments and tests are being delivered as part of the NHS Innovation and Technology Payment programme, which is fast-tracking the roll-out of latest technology across the country by helping to overcome barriers such as funding and procurement.
The programme’s latest innovations include a cutting-edge blood test which can detect changes in protein levels in blood, allowing emergency doctors to rule out a heart attack within three hours – nine hours faster than the current rate – meaning people get quicker treatment and avoid admission to hospital.
From this year, thousands of pregnant women will be offered a test on the NHS which can help rule out pre-eclampsia – a serious condition linked to labour complications, acute pain and vision problems – and allow women either to get extra care faster, or avoid the need for further hospital trips during pregnancy.
NHS England has also confirmed that funding will be extended for 10 other new tests and treatments covered by an earlier version of the programme, allowing more patients to benefit.
Innovation Agency chief executive Dr Liz Mear said: “In our region we have helped to introduce many innovations which are transforming the quality of care provided to patients, through this fast-tracking payment system.
"Our team is excited to be part of this latest programme which will ensure that thousands more people will receive improved care through the use of innovative technologies.”
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “From improving care for pregnant women to using digital modelling to assess heart conditions and new tests to prevent unnecessary hospitalisations for suspected heart attacks, the NHS is taking action to ensure patients have access to the very best modern technologies. It's heartening to see the NHS grasping with both hands these rapidly advancing medical innovations."
Plans to speed up the uptake of proven, cutting-edge treatments is being overseen by the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC), a joint NHS, government and industry effort which aims to make the NHS the world’s most innovation-friendly health system.
Dr Sam Roberts, chief executive of the Accelerated Access Collaborative and director of innovation and life sciences for NHS England, said: “This programme has been amazingly successful at getting new tests and treatments to patients, with over 300,000 patients benefitting already, and this year we have another great selection of proven innovations.
“We will build on this success with our commitments set out in the Long Term Plan, to support the latest advances and make it easier for even more patients to benefit from world-class technology.”
As set out in the Long Term Plan, the NHS will introduce a new funding mandate for proven health tech products so the NHS can adopt new, cost saving innovations as easily as it already introduces new clinically and cost effective medicines.