WELCOME TO OUR MONTHLY HEALTHCARE UPDATE WITH ALL THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT


Highlights this month include: the NHS has launched a consultation seeking views on digital, data, and technology roles; a healthcare start-up has secured grants to trial AI technology that will be used to support early diagnosis of Alzheimer's; the NHS has launched its first Genomics Strategy; and the European Commission has published a report identifying vulnerabilities in the supply chain of medicines.

 

AGENDA FOR CHANGE AND DIGITAL, DATA AND TECHNOLOGY ROLES

NHS England is seeking views on digital, data, and technology roles. The consultation opened on 3 November 2022 and closes by 1 December 2022. Digital, Data and Technology professionals are in high demand across all sectors of the economy, therefore the NHS has recognised the need to do more to attract and retain these specialist skillsets. This is in order to meet current and future digital transformation ambitions. The intention of the survey is to understand the challenges that exist in recruiting and retaining these professionals. The information gathered will form an evidence base on which to build future solutions.

NHS WILL ROLL EXISTING PALANTIR WORK INTO PATIENT DATA PLATFORM

NHS Digital board papers have revealed that the UK government is set to expand its use of the Federated Data Platform. The plan is to extract patient-identifiable data from NHS hospital systems and share it via the data platform, which is based on technology from Palantir, in an attempt to help cut hospital waiting times. NHS England is set to launch the delayed procurement in the coming weeks. Patient health data is estimated to be worth £9.6 billion a year to health tech companies and some bidders fear Palantir has an unfair advantage. This is because it originally created a data platform in 2020, to help the NHS understand the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic and was later awarded a £23 million contract to expand on this work. The government however conceded at the threat of a judicial review of this deal and among three key concessions, said it would not offer companies like Palantir a long-term NHS role without consulting the public.

DIGITAL HEALTHCARE START-UP SET TO TRANSFORM ALZHEIMER’S TREATMENT

The digital healthcare start-up Ascentys has secured two grants, including a six-figure sum from a government programme, to trial AI technology that will be used to support early screening and diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. The company's share of the £25m government funding has been set aside to fund the development and piloting of a videogame with the potential to enhance current NHS support for the disease. The funding will be used to continue Ascentys and its partners development and clinical testing of the Game-based Dementia Automated Testing Algorithm known as G:DATA.

OPERATING FRAMEWORK FOR NHS ENGLAND

An NHS England publication outlines its operating framework on how it will work in the new structure created by the Health and Care Act 2022. The framework describes the roles that NHS England, integrated care boards and NHS providers will now play, working alongside partners in the wider health and care system, and shows how accountabilities and responsibilities will be allocated to improve local health and care outcomes. The framework has been co-created with 300 system leaders, organisations and stakeholders, including Health Education England and NHS Digital.

NHS PUBLISHES FIRST EVER GENOMICS STRATEGY

The NHS has made several medtech-related announcements this month, one of which is its groundbreaking genetic testing service that is set to expedite rare disease diagnosis for babies and children in England. The new service, based in Devon, will rapidly process DNA samples of babies and children who end up seriously ill in hospital or who are born with a rare disease, such as cancer. The NHS chief executive is also expected to announce the launch of the NHS’ first Genomics Strategy. This is a five-year plan to step up the use of genomic medicine within the NHS, embedding the cutting-edge benefits it delivers to patients in all areas of the NHS, from cancer to inherited and rare diseases. The plan will help more people receive life-saving diagnoses and get the support and cutting-edge treatments needed to live with them.

COMMISSION PUBLISHES DOCUMENT ON IMPROVING GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN OF MEDICINES

The European Commission has published a report, titled ‘Staff Working Document on Vulnerabilities of the global supply chains of medicines – Structured Dialogue on the security of medicines supply’. This summarises the main findings of the Structured Dialogue, especially concerning pharmaceutical supply chain challenges, provides a draft methodology to identify critical medicines and approaches that can be adopted to identify vulnerabilities in the supply chain of medicines, and maps out areas of focus at EU level to improve the security of supply and availability of critical medicines.

MAJOR REFORMS TO NHS TECH AGENDA ACCELERATED

Patients will benefit from more streamlined care and be able to make more informed choices about how and where they access treatment after plans to transform NHS data sharing were brought forward. The Department for Health and Social Care said the proposed transfer of NHS Digital’s functions into NHS England, which were due to happen at the end of March 2023, would now happen in early January 2023. The move will create a single statutory body responsible for data and digital technology for the NHS. The move will build on the huge progress seen on digital transformation during the pandemic, driving efficiencies across the NHS as evidence suggests digitally mature providers are 10% more efficient than their less digitally mature peers.

GO AHEAD FOR VULNERABLE TEENAGERS’ INPATIENT UNIT

A first of its kind for Scotland, NHS Ayrshire & Arran have received the green light from the Scottish government for a purpose-built mental health facility for young people. This should be set to accept patients from next year. After the Scottish government’s Capital Investment Group & NHS Assure reviewed the plans for the young persons’ mental health facility, NHS Ayrshire & Arran received approval for the new national facility to open in Irvine. The facility, to be known as Foxgrove, will provide the first medium secure adolescent inpatient service for young people in Scotland. As a purpose-built facility, the Ayrshire development comes as a strand of the Scottish government Mental Health Strategy 2017-2027 and means that children can be cared for nearer to home.

FUTURE-PROOFING RETIREMENT LIVING - EASING THE HOUSING AND CARE CRISES

The report The Mayhew Review has concluded that the Government must build 50,000 new homes for older people each year to tackle the UK’s housing and social care crisis. Professor Les Mayhew of the International Longevity Centre and City University, whose commission this year drew on evidence and input from over forty experts, argues that achieving this growth would help older people stay healthy for longer, and reduce the burden on the NHS and care homes. Each new home would free up housing and surplus bedrooms for younger families and first-time buyers, making housing more affordable.

MENTAL CAPACITY ACT INCLUDING DOLS AND LPS

Building on the work carried out in individual authorities, the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADASS) have produced a range of resources that can assist local areas in their implementation of the Act, including the new Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS), which will be replacing Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS). The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLs) form part of the Mental Capacity Act and were to be replaced by the Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS) in April 2022. The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed that their introduction will be postponed and a new date will be set once they have considered the responses to the consultation, and the outstanding work required.

GLOBAL ACTION NEEDED TO SECURE THE ERA OF GREEN PHARMACEUTICALS

According to a new report commissioned by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), immediate action must be taken by governments, health systems and companies to secure the era of green pharmaceuticals. The report ‘Supporting the era of green pharmaceuticals in the UK,’ highlights that while the UK can play a leading role in the sustainability agenda for pharmaceuticals, actions must also be global to ensure impact.

SIMPLYHEALTH LAUNCHES FUND FOCUSED ON PREVENTIVE HEALTH START-UPS

Health and dental plan provider Simplyhealth has launched a £60m venture capital fund to invest in early stage healthcare businesses in the UK. This will be focused on development and adoption of predictive and preventive healthcare solutions. The fund should improve access to healthcare in the UK. One of the first healthcare companies to receive funding from this Simplyhealth project is Daye, a female-founded gynaecological health company, which is looking to raise standards in women’s health and to close the gender gap in medical research and innovation.

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE SECRETARY SETS OUT KEY PRIORITIES AHEAD OF WINTER

The Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay has set out plans for the health and care system through the upcoming winter. Addressing the NHS Providers conference in Liverpool, Steve Barclay will say he will focus “on the areas that matter most to the patient experience” and measures which make it “as easy as possible” for frontline NHS and care workers to do their jobs. Key priorities include, hiring more staff for NHS 111 and 999, tackling the issue of delayed hospital discharge, and improving access to primary care.

INDIA FAST EMERGING AS THE MEDICAL TOURISM HUB OF THE WORLD

India issued more than 10 lakh medical visas to foreigners between 2019 and 2022, meaning it fast becoming a global medical tourism hub. India's Science and Technology Minister Jitendra Singh has said that India has become one of the most lucrative healthcare destinations of the world, with the latest technology tools arranged, across care delivery. India approximately has 600 hospitals providing treatment in a cost-effective way. The healthcare sector in India is likely to reach $50 billion by 2025, while the global medical tourism market is predictable to be valued at about $72 billion.

GOVERNMENT COMMITS NEARLY HALF A BILLION POUNDS FOR UK RESEARCH

The Business Secretary has announced up to £484 million in research funding to support the R&D sector. This is in response to the UK’s association to Horizon Europe and other related EU science programmes not being finalised. These investments aim to provide support for staff retention at eligible universities and research organisations and to provide a catalyst for the growth in the UK’s growing fusion industry.

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Louise Dobson

Louise Dobson

Co-Head of Healthcare
United Kingdom

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Rachel Orton

Rachel Orton

Partner, Real Estate
London

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