New UK government: What’s next for British health innovation?

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With a new UK government sweeping to power in the coming days following Labour’s landslide in the General Election, Health Tech World reports on what UK-based health innovators would like to see next from Whitehall.

After 14 years of Conservative rule, a new Labour government led by Keir Starmer will soon be installed. Here we report on what members of the UK’s health tech community would like to see prioritised.

Ellie Charsley, director of government affairs at the Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI), said: “With a new government that boasts a significant majority, there is a strong mandate for transformative change.

“The recognition of life sciences, and specifically HealthTech, as key drivers for NHS reform is promising. We must now grasp this opportunity to foster innovation, improve patient outcomes, and build a healthcare system that leverages cutting-edge technology.

It is our ambition to make this the HealthTech parliament, and collaboration between the government, NHS, and HealthTech sector will be crucial to realising this vision. We are looking forward to working with all stakeholders to achieve these goals.”

Carmelo Insalaco, CEO of health tech firm Rapid Health, said: “The next government should focus on maximising the efficiency of our current healthcare workforce. Simply increasing the number of doctors is not the answer, the priority should be on freeing up doctors’ time from unnecessary tasks and utilising technology to better manage and balance patient demand. 

“Smarter technologies can transform and further elevate the modern general practice access model by providing a comprehensive understanding of demand and capacity in primary care. 

“We need to streamline and better integrate patient pathways between primary and secondary care to meet the needs of local areas. This integrated approach is crucial for reducing the strain on hospitals, which is partly caused by pressures in primary care. 

“By doing so, we can fully leverage smarter technologies, simplify patient care pathways, and maximise the efficiency of our current healthcare workforce. This will also help us identify the true gaps in the existing workforce.” 

Nick Wilson, CEO at care tech platform System C, said: “Following the election announcement a focus on the health of the population and supporting the NHS, and critically, Social Care, is key.

“I’d like to see Sir Kier Starmer and the Labour government place increased priority on connecting care using existing systems to avoid substantial delays and the huge disruption regularly associated with implementing new and sometimes unproven systems, often not designed and built with the UK’s complex and unique Health and Social Care ecosystem at their core.

“There is a golden opportunity to connect care with existing systems to deliver value faster and at far lower incremental costs compared to wholesale system replacements.    

“Labour has stated that supporting UK tech is a high priority. Alongside this, speed and accountability are also key, and the government need to commit to investment that has change and transformation at its heart. They must also ensure that the NHS and wider public sector provide a level playing field for British suppliers – which currently is not the case.” 

Dr Rachael Grimaldi, co-founder and chief executive, CardMedic, a digital health firm, said: “It is imperative that we get more solutions that can have an immediate impact into the hands of frontline staff to alleviate the pressing problems of capacity, safety and quality in the NHS. But it is currently an uphill battle to achieving adoption.

“To tackle this, I hope the new Labour government will hit the ground running with developing its NHS innovation and adoption strategy as promised in their manifesto. 

“However, we need to think not only about the strategy, but about its practical implementation so that the NHS can reap the benefits of innovation as quickly as possible. 

“There are myriad challenges facing the NHS, from waiting lists to health inequalities – all of which Labour promises to address – but there is often no frame of reference when it comes to introducing innovations which can help solve these challenges. We need to look to examples of success, of which there are many, and create a blueprint for change on a national level. Failure to do so will risk losing innovation to other health systems where adoption is easier. 

“There is an enormous opportunity here for the new Labour government to bring about real, meaningful change. I only hope they seize this opportunity and build a truly modern NHS that works for patients.” 

Preventative healthcare testing organisation London Medical Laboratory says Labour has many encouraging ideas for local health reform, but it mustn’t take healthcare workers and pharmacists for granted.

Clinical lead Dr Avinash Hari Narayanan said: “The incoming Prime Minister, Kier Starmer, and his likely Health Minister, Wes Streeting, will enjoy a period of goodwill, but must not take health workers and hard-pressed pharmacists for granted. Labour has promised to cut the NHS waiting list with 40,000 more appointments each week, during evenings and weekends, which it claims will be paid for by cracking down on tax avoidance and non-dom loopholes. It also promises the return of the family doctor. These are welcome pledges, and one of the Government’s key tasks from day one will be to achieve these goals.

“We agree entirely with its policy to shift our NHS away from a model geared towards late diagnosis and treatment, to a model where more services are delivered in local communities. It’s a cliché, but it’s true that prevention is better than cure. Furthermore, identifying conditions at as an early a stage as possible is often vital in ensuring a successful outcome. The wider use of measures such as blood tests can help identify issues before symptoms even show.

“We have some reservations about exactly how Labour will achieve its targets without further exploiting hard-pressed health workers.  It says the 40,000 additional appointments a week will be achieved by “incentivising staff to carry out additional appointments out of hours.”

“NHS workers, just like staff at local clinics and pharmacies, already work long hours and that includes significant amounts of overtime. Of course, healthcare is not a 9-5 job, but as the recent junior doctors strike has emphasised, many NHS and other health care workers are near to breaking point. This needs to be recognised in terms of employing additional staff and adequately paying people at all levels of health services.”

Paul Tambeau, CEO of Induction Healthcare said: “It is positive that Labour sees the valuable role that digital health can have in transforming the NHS and addressing the elective recovery backlog. We’re looking forward to hearing more details on the tangible steps and investments they’re going to take in this area.”

More to follow


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