Medical Technology Group Warns Against ‘Slow-Tech’ NHS

25.11.2009: Today the Medical Technology Group, backed by leading politicians, warned that the UK is falling behind other European countries in uptake of medical technologies.
Launching a 12 point Action Plan, “Medical Technology – Can We Afford To Miss Out?”, the Group warned that any cuts to NHS technology budgets would cost more in the long-run and risked damaging the quality of life of thousands of patients with diabetes, heart disease and other long-term conditions.
MTG Chairman, Director of Heart Research UK Barbara Harpham said,
“Like all public services the NHS is under pressure to cut costs, but slashing budgets is counterproductive as modern technologies help thousands of people with long-term conditions stay in work or education and out of hospital.”
“We already lag behind much of Europe, with problems like hospitals denying patients NICE-approved technologies because they lack the facilities or staff to support their use. With an ageing population and increasing demands on health services we cannot afford a ‘slow-tech’ NHS.”
The Action Plan highlights examples of slow uptake of technologies including:
Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICDs), which can lead to a 50% reduction in cardiac deaths, were implanted in Germany at over three times the UK rate last year, despite being recommended by NICE.
Less than 4% of patients with Type One diabetes have access to an insulin pump in the UK, compared with 35% in the US, despite these being approved by NICE.
It makes 12 policy recommendations to improve uptake of medical technologies, including:
Making the right of patients to technologies recommended by NICE legally enforceable.
Giving patients more information about which providers make use of the latest technologies, so patients can make a more informed choice of provider (through NHS Choices and Choose and Book).
Conservative Shadow Health Minister Stephen O’Brien MP welcomed the Group’s report saying,
“We should be proud of Britain’s strength in medical technology, SMEs are the engine-room of our economy generating employment and wealth for individuals and for the country as a whole.”
“I want to build a health service where procurement delivers the best possible patient and financial outcomes, rather than focusing on short term targets, and where specialist equipment is not treated as just a commodity, but as a value for money use of public money.”
Norman Lamb MP, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary, commented:
“These recommendations focus on key issues which the NHS and the Government must address. They provide a very welcome contribution to the debate.”
“Adoption of medical technologies is often both cost effective and in the patient’s interest. Up until now, the NHS has been slow to recognise the value of technology. This has to change if we are to maximise the effective use of resources for the benefit of patients.”
Tina Amiss, who has cardiomyopathy, and whose live has been saved by her ICD on 3 separate occasions said,
“This powerful but diminutive piece of technology has enabled me to get back to a relatively normal life and has helped stop my family living in constant fear of another cardiac arrest”
“The ICD is life saving and reduces both the cost and emotional trauma of life threatening cardiomyopathies – it should be available to all who need it.”
Thomas Double is 12 and has Type 1 diabetes. He uses an insulin pump that is recommended by NICE to manage his condition, after his mother battled for over two years to get agreement from her PCT to fund the therapy:
“Going onto a pump was definitely the right thing to do. Now, instead of having a lot of injections I just have to press a few buttons. It’s easier to spend time with my friends without constantly feeling different and worrying that I won’t be able to do the same things as them.”

The full report can be downloaded Medical Technology Group report here

NHS 'must boost use of technology'

The NHS is falling behind other European health services in the uptake of life-saving technologies, according to a report by the Medical Technology Group, a coalition of UK industry groups and patient charities.

Barbara Harpham, Medical Technology Group chairman and director of Heart Research UK, said: “Slashing budgets is counterproductive as modern technologies help thousands of people stay in work and out of hospital.

“We already lag behind much of Europe, with problems like hospitals denying patients NICE-approved technologies because they lack the facilities or staff to support their use.”

Read more about boosting the use of technology here

Endoalpha operating theatre formally opened at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

Cutting-edge operating theatre to transform healthcare in Scotland

Click on thumbnail to view image
Published Date: 20 November 2009
By Stephen McGinty

IT IS a room with an intimate view and the most advanced operating theatre in Europe.

While the surgeon’s favourite show tunes blare out from an iPod dock, the patient’s insides will be beamed on to high-definition flatscreen televisions as well as to students around the world as Edinburgh Royal Infirmary meets the Starship Enterprise.

Yesterday, the state-of-the-art Endoalpha operating room was formally opened at the infirmary where pioneering keyhole surgery, in which surgeons perform an operation through tiny incisions on the body, will take place.

The theatre will cater for some of the most complex medical operations and is expected to speed up procedures. The facility will also allow video conferences in which operations are broadcast anywhere in the world, allowing trainee surgeons to learn new techniques.

Read more about the Endoalpha operating theatre at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

Telehealth succeeds in Bute

Wednesday 18th November 2009

Monitoring pods An innovative telehealth project to monitor patients with chronic lung conditions has secured NHS Highland, Argyll & Bute Council and Telehealth Solutions.

NHS Highland’s Project Manager Lynn Garrett and Telehealth Solutions’ Product Manager Charles Lowe collected the coveted Improvement and Innovation award from the Scottish Health Awards Back in January, telehealth technology moved to the Isle of Bute where COPD sufferers had 15 monitoring pods installed. The limited resources project has enjoyed phenomenal success since its inception where the benefits were immediately apparent when, just weeks after the project went live, and the first unplanned hospital admission was avoided.


Early evaluations would suggest that further admissions have been saved but a structured evaluation, carried out in partnership with the University of the Highlands and Islands, will shortly be conducted. Once the results are known the findings will be shared with other health authorities.

Read more about the telehealth project

London medical records go online

Computer keyboard

People can opt out of the system

Millions of patient records are to go online in London after long delays to an NHS IT upgrade in the city.

The £12bn government programme has been beset with problems and is four years behind schedule.

The records, which contain details of patient medications and allergies, will go live on Thursday following pilot studies across England.

It is hoped the system will allow data to be shared more easily. The scheme will also be rolled out across England.

The summary care record is designed to securely hold details of medications, allergies, adverse reactions and other key health information.

It is based on a patient’s GP record but is designed so any doctor treating a patient can add to it.

Read more about London Medical records going on line

Latest HEAT Targets Revealed

NHS Performance Targets

Local Delivery Plans set out a delivery agreement between the Scottish Government Health Department and each NHS Board, based on the key Ministerial targets. Local Delivery Plans reflect the HEAT Core Set – the key objectives, targets and measures that reflect Ministers’ priorities for the Health portfolio. The key objectives are as follows:

* Health Improvement for the people of Scotland – improving life expectancy and healthy life expectancy;
* Efficiency and Governance Improvements – continually improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the NHS;
* Access to Services – recognising patients’ need for quicker and easier use of NHS services; and
* Treatment Appropriate to Individuals – ensure patients receive high quality services that meet their needs.

Statistics that inform progress against the suite of HEAT targets are reported publicly throughout the year. Performance against all the HEAT targets are brought together in NHSScotland Chief Executive’s Annual Reports.

More information on the HEAT Targets

Computer device 'helps' diabetics

Iain Mackenzie Newsbeat technology reporter

Children with type 1 diabetes can use the programme to check their condition
Children with type 1 diabetes can use the programme to check their condition

A handheld computer console game has been developed to help diabetic children monitor their condition.

The Didget system for the Nintendo DS is designed to encourage young people to test their blood sugar levels regularly.

Users download the results to their console and are rewarded with game points.

25,000 children in the UK have diabetes. Those with type 1 need to test their blood every few hours.

The regime can be tough, according to 11-year-old George Dove: “It is boring, but I am quite good at remembering to do it because I know if I don’t do it, I know that I could get really ill,” he said.

“When I am low I go really shaky, get blurred vision and can’t speak very well. After the first year or so you get used to it and I know when I am having a hypo.”

Hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar, is one of the risks associated with diabetes.

However, if the condition isn’t managed properly it can lead to heart disease and blindness.

For more about diabetes device

    Virtual surgery places health in patients’ hands

    Moray residents can chat with fellow sufferers and read clinicians’ blogs

    By Donna MacAllister

    Published: 12/11/2009

    Moray’s first “virtual” surgery, designed to make people experts in their own healthcare, was launched yesterday. enables patients to “visit the clinic”, chat to other Moray residents with similar medical problems, pinpoint local health information, read clinicians’ blogs on specialist subjects and link to recommended health sites.

    Site founder Professor Grant Cumming, a consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician at Dr Gray’s Hospital, Elgin, said it was time everyone took responsibility for their own health.

    He added: “Some analysts are predicting almost every school-leaver would have to join the medical profession by 2020 to maintain current levels of health.

    “I think we can use digital technology to improve the whole aspect of information.”

    Dr Cumming assured website users about security, promising no patient records would be posted online and visitors could remain anonymous if they wanted.

    He said existing e-health websites, such as, received millions of hits a month, and this new approach had been shown to improve health both mentally and physically.

    Study: texting boosts compliance among teens


    Adolescent nonadherence has presented a major challenge to healthcare professionals in transplantation and other medical fields, who for years have tried to address the issue with little success. But researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York recently published the results of a study showing that text messaging could make a big difference in the rate of adherence among young liver transplant patients.

    Using a program called CareSpeak, the researchers issued text messages to a group of 41 pediatric liver transplant patients, according to a New York Times report. The text messages prompted the patients to take their medications, which ranged from one to three different pills once or twice a day.

    Read more

    Study: texting boosts compliance among teens

    Quick Healthcare Questions answered on Twitter

    This is an US service. Could this sort of service work over here?

    If Twitter can be used to track packages, publish school menus and crowdfund startups, why not help tackle the US healthcare crisis too? Cell phones are already changing the way healthcare is delivered in the developing world, after all, and now Twitter promises to transform the delivery of healthcare information for stateside consumers.

    Find out more about healthcare and twitter