ABHI Warns that Unworkable HealthTech Procurement Means 1 in 3 Companies have Chosen to Not Bid on Tenders

A press release from the UK’s Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI) signals a warning for regulators and NHS procurement. Indeed it suggests that existing barriers could mean patients miss out on life-saving technology.

The piece, which can be found here, talks of persistent regulatory ambiguity and NHS procurement processes. As a result it claims current practices risk companies deprioritising the UK market for HealthTech innovation.

ABHI Industry Survey

The Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI) and innovation consultancy CPI conducted a survey HealthTech businesses operating in the UK. Resulting data suggests barriers are now having a tangible impact on the ability of the sector to bring HealthTech to the UK. 

According to the survey, regulatory uncertainty has led to almost half of businesses removing products from the UK market. Furthermore over a third of companies have chosen not to bid on specific tenders due to unworkable procurement requirements. Compounding the issue, over 77% of respondents highlighting that the cost to serve the NHS had increased over the last year.

Guarded optimism

It seems that in spite of the challenges, the fundamentals remain strong. In fact companies rate the UK as highly as anywhere in the world in the willingness of the health system to collaborate with industry. The ABHI’s release pleads for changes if the NHS and UK HealthTech industry are to realise their full value. The industry body no doubt feels like it’s pushing at an open door. Government clearly recognises HealthTech as a key driver for the improvement of the UK’s health and wealth.

The recently announced £520m for Life Sciences manufacturing could offer some of the bespoke support the sector requires. The survey’s data findings also indicate positive sentiment towards early-stage research support. For example, there is a stated emphasis on the local skills base and the opportunity that AI presents.

The ABHI is clearly keen to “cement the UK’s position as a global hub for HealthTech”. For this to happen it points to the survey report. There’s a clear need to ensure that existing policy commitments are delivered. Furthermore the necessary economic, technical and regulatory support needs to be in place. 

ABHI comments

Peter Ellingworth, Chief Executive, ABHI said: “These issues will not be news to anyone within our industry, and those who work to support it. What is stark is the level of innovation that is at risk of not reaching UK patients. We operate in a global industry, and if we are serious about making the UK a destination market for HealthTech innovation, as outlined in the Life Sciences Vision, we must do things differently in order to remain competitive. The survey supports that there is a vast opportunity to realise the full potential of the sector and positive work is underway to realise it. We must now deliver procurement structures that recognise value and, whilst there is some optimism about the regulatory direction of travel, industry needs clear timelines in order to plan and invest accordingly.”

CPI comments

Rahul Kapoor, Director of HealthTech at CPI said: “The Life Sciences Vision recognises the UK’s potential for HealthTech industry. Yet the industry survey highlights an urgent need for intervention on three key platforms. These are regulatory clarity, industrial growth, and the NHS opportunity. Without these we risk losing a highly value-adding sector and translation of HealthTech research outputs.

The Autumn Statement provides support for manufacturing, including HealthTech. But to fully unlock the sector, the UK needs to build a stronger industrial strategy to ensure that it is a global destination for HealthTech industry.”

Further details, and the full survey report here.

Source: ABHI

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