Reality of NHS Funding, Need for NICE and Effective Health Technology Assessment.

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Published: 17 Oct 2016

The NHS is always calling for funds but at a time of economic constraint and major change with the UK leaving the EU any money made available will not satisfy the demand. However, experience has shown that throwing money at the NHS does not work, as seen from the doubling of NHS funding during the Blair years with only marginal change.

Although not the main cost area within the NHS, a focus has been on reducing, or at least controlling, costs for new Drugs, Devices and Diagnostics through economic assessments under the auspices of NICE. Despite this being another hurdle to jump it imposes an effective discipline on industry to balance profit with clinical benefit through Health Technology Assessment, HTA. The challenge of HTA is that involves detailed analysis of the Patient Pathway and all the costs involved.

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When carried out rigorously HTA can demonstrate the clinical benefits and often cost savings for the NHS, as well as determining a justifiable product price not only for the production costs and R&D recovery but also for its true clinical or healthcare value. In HTA work with the NHS National Innovation Centre with some fifteen new devices and procedures even at the low (40%) adoption rate seen for new products potential savings of £2 B per year, every year were identified but often with changes to current practice.

A particular HTA study for COPD patients carried out by ABA in collaboration with researchers at Ulster University is pertinent bearing in mind increasing pressures to more effectively join up Primary and Secondary Medical care with that of Social Care, together with modern technology advances, such as Telemonitoring. The work demonstrated improved clinical benefit with the full costs and savings required with the need for individual patient stratification so that the available healthcare resources could be more effectively used. This study demonstrated how it would allow GPs and Social Care (Community Respiratory Teams, CRT) to focus on those patients with low or moderate needs and reduce hospital visits. This individual management can then free the Hospital to deal with the more severe cases that require frequent hospitalisation.

The full details of this work are given separately on this web site. Please read the report below.

Health Economics as a Positive Tool for Improved Patient Benefit with Managed NHS Costs.