The biggest challenges facing the NHS, including the backlog of patients waiting for treatment, the “postcode lottery” of care, and the growing burden of long-term conditions, could be solved in part by medical technology, a new report by the Medical Technology Group argues.

The Medtech the Solution manifesto, published to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the MTG’s formation in 2001, celebrates the achievements in medical technology in the past two decades, as well as the benefits it has brought by improving patients’ lives, making the NHS safer and more efficient, and helping people back to work.

The report includes contributions from Rachel Power, CEO of the Patients Association, Dean Russell MP, and health innovation policy expert, Paul Blakeley. It calls for better access to medical technology to reduce pressure, clinician time, and costly interventions in the NHS, and recommends:

  • Prioritization of the patient voice, including consulting patients on decisions around commissioning and funding, and offering them all the diagnosis and treatment decisions available so they can make an informed choice
  • Accelerated access for patients to medical technology, so that any technology recommended by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) is taken up at pace and scale across the country, with Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) implementing and being accountable for uptake
  • Fair and timely commissioning, where commissioning decisions by NHS England and proven, recommended technologies are linked to funding, wider societal value is included in NICE decisions, and long-term decision making that improves health outcomes is rewarded

Barbara Harpham, Chair of the MTG, said:

“Hospital technologies such as robotic assisted surgery, patient technology like stents and implantable cardioverter defibrillators, and safety technology like antibacterial sutures have transformed healthcare and improved patients’ lives dramatically over the past twenty years, helping millions live full and active lives.

“But the past twenty months have seen the pressure on the NHS grow inordinately and we now face the enormous challenge of dealing with a huge backlog as well as the mounting demand caused by an ageing population.

“Medical technology can make a real difference and is the answer to many of these problems. It can improve diagnosis, streamline patient pathways, speed up access to treatment, and improve care and outcomes.

“We now need the policies and incentives to reflect the important role that medical technology can play, so it is adopted widely and fairly across the whole country.”

The manifesto was launched on Wednesday November 24 as part of the events to mark Medical Technology Awareness Week 2021.