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UK Diagnostics Strategy – Webinar Updates

By September 17, 2021No Comments

Webinar Updates

This week, BIVDA and 2 other Trade Associations hosted webinars on behalf of the Department of Health & Social Care. (DHSC)

DHSC is developing a new UK Diagnostics strategy for the next 5-10 years across the whole of the health and care system and in collaboration with the private sector. The vision is for the UK to be a world leader in diagnostic services and innovation, achieving great population health outcomes This will build on the investment and progress during the response to COVID-19 so that the post-COVID diagnostics sector is:

  • More joined-up
  • More resilient and prepared for future pandemics
  • Better at managing endemic infectious disease
  • More preventative and precise
  • More innovative and better at encouraging collaboration between the public and private sector.

The strategy has three key pillars:

  1. Ensure we are prepared for future pandemics.
  2. Reduce the elective backlog and support better long-term management of the waiting list.
  3. Support prevention through innovative diagnostics and new models of care.

The strategy aims to support the development of a strong life sciences sector, with clearer signalling from the NHS and Government and a better pathway for innovation to enter the system.

The Diagnostics Strategy will take a broad approach to diagnostic services and will include all major uses of diagnostics services and types of diagnostics. It will therefore include:

  • Imaging
  • Pathology
  • Physiology
  • Endoscopy
  • Genomics

It will cover varied uses for these services, including:

  • Diagnosis
  • Screening
  • Surveillance
  • Behaviour change

The first Webinar was on Monday hosted by Medilink, the subject of this meeting was to examine the process of bringing diagnostics to market (real world testing, late-stage research, production, regulation and NICE recommendation)

The questions that DHSC sought to answer included,

  1. What are the biggest challenges in the process of converting good ideas and innovation, into a product that is ready for adoption by the NHS?
  2. How can Government, the NHS and public sector better support this stage?
  3. How has Covid impacted on the process and are there any positive changes we should embed?

Members were recently issued with a questionnaire which contained these questions.

As we would expect the comments focused on lack of transparency of processes, unclear requirements, demand signalling, procurement process and access to capital and resources.

BIVDA hosted the second in the series on Diagnostics uptake by the NHS (NHS procurement, adoption and spread).

The questions that DHSC sought to answer included,

  1. What are the biggest challenges/obstacles in getting innovations adopted by the NHS?
  2. How can government, the NHS and public sector better support this stage?
  3. How has Covid impacted on the relationship between the diagnostics sector and the NHS, and are there any positive changes we should embed?

In summary, the issues raised along with the NICE and regulatory processes and Accelerated Access Collaborative which were a recurring theme through all 3 webinars, included short term cost management at Trust level is short sighted and affects implementation of innovative technologies as award criteria favours cost to procure. Procurement is process driven. Financial control of diagnostics should be moved closer to the patient.

The Procurement transformation green paper is largely going to deliver the opposite than the strategy and procurement professionals are not involved in these discussions, their objectives are not aligned. It is commoditised and cash releasing savings.

A need for a Director of Diagnostics to align clinical and financial elements of the system was heavily favoured.

The third webinar was hosted by ABHI to focus on Diagnostics research and innovation (from ideas, to proof of concept and early research).

  1. What are the most exciting/promising innovations in the diagnostics sector which you think can significantly improve or change the diagnostics landscape in the future?
  2. What are the biggest challenges to innovating and early stages of research?
  3. How can Government, the NHS and public sector better support this stage?
  4. How has Covid impacted research and innovation, and are there any positive changes we should embed?

The chair asked the group not to concentrate on NICE, adoption and regulatory as the other webinars had covered this and DHSC were aware, so the focus was on development and support for the early stage R&D.

Access to samples and investment from the UK to encourage capital backing were discussed in detail.

A follow up with the trade associations is scheduled next week. In all 3 webinars, DHSC made clear that the industry engagement was ongoing, and regular updates and feedback would be given. In addition to this, the hosts of the webinars are scheduled to re-convene to ensure a joined up approach for our members.

We certainly look forward to future engagement and if any members have not completed the questionnaire but have comments or experiences relating to any of these webinars and the questions they asked, please contact me as we will have more opportunity to discuss as we progress through this strategy development with them.