Plans to speed up access to innovative treatments
Author: Adrian O'Dowd
NHS patients should be able to gain faster access to ground-breaking treatments and services thanks to changes in how new approaches are adopted in the health service.
The government has today announced changes to the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) to put the most promising medicines, diagnostic tools and digital services through the clinical development and regulatory approval process faster.
The AAC was set up last year to speed up the time it takes for patients to benefit from ground-breaking products for conditions such as cancer, dementia and diabetes by using an accelerated access pathway designed to allow products with the greatest potential to change lives to become available up to four years earlier.
Under the new arrangements, the AAC will now become the new umbrella organisation for UK health innovation.
The Department of Health & Social Care said that the AAC would act as a “front door” for innovators who were looking to get their products funded by the NHS, while also providing support to overcome barriers that can prevent the best medical innovations from reaching patients.
To do this, a new unit in NHS England and NHS Improvement will be established, led by Dr Sam Roberts as chief executive.
The AAC had already selected and supported 12 “rapid uptake products” to increase their use within the NHS, said the Department, which included a blood test for pre-eclampsia that can diagnose the condition earlier in pregnancy to help reduce life-threatening complications.
Together the products have the potential to improve the lives of around 500,000 patients and save the NHS up to £30m, it said.
The Department said the new AAC would:
- implement a system to identify the best new innovations and make sure the NHS is ready to use them
- set up a single point of call for innovators working inside or outside the NHS, so they can understand the system and where to find support
- signal the needs of clinicians and patients, so innovators know which problems they need to solve
- establish a testing infrastructure, so innovators can generate the evidence they need to get their products into the NHS
- oversee a health innovation funding strategy
- support the NHS to adopt clinically and cost-effective innovations quicker.
Health minister Nicola Blackwood said: “I want the NHS to be at the forefront of cutting-edge treatments and medical innovations – but often it can take too long for products to get from the bench to the bedside.
“The Accelerated Access Collaborative will speed up this process so patients and the NHS can be the first in the world to benefit from the most transformative technologies and treatments as part of our Long Term Plan.”
Lord David Prior, chair of NHS England, said: “Our ambition is very clear: the NHS will be the most innovative health care system in the world with much easier access and much quicker uptake of new and innovative products. This applies to therapeutics, diagnostics, digital devices and our whole supply chain.”