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19.02.20

Hospitals given power to develop personalised treatment

Personalised medicines to treat unique cancers and diseases are set to become more prevalent in healthcare as the introduction of the Medicines and Medical Devices Bill allows NHS hospitals to develop and utilised these specialised, innovative medicines.

The bill also introduces new safety measures and increases the professions who are able to prescribe low-risk medicines.

Reducing unnecessary GP appointments has been a key goal of the current government, in relation to healthcare, and the increase in the range of professions able to prescribe medicines in low-risk circumstances should alleviate some of these pressures on general practice medicine.

Already there are circumstances in which healthcare professionals are able to prescribe medicines in low-risk circumstances, such as midwives and paramedics with pain relief and physiotherapists with anti-inflammatories, and the bill extends these prescribing powers with the goal of making better use of the NHS’ highly-skilled workforce.

New regulations on medical devices, such as pacemakers, breast implants and ultrasound imagers, have also been introduced to ensure patient safety is at the forefront of any care provided.

The new bill, introduced on February 13, 2020, means hospitals are able to use patient tissue and DNA samples to tailor treatments to individual patients when other medicines have failed. It also allows hospitals to develop drugs with a very short shelf life which otherwise would not be available to them.

By opening up the opportunities to do so for NHS hospitals has the potential of streamlining access to treatments for patients with rare cancers and brain tumours.

Alongside boosting patient safety, the new regulations on medical devices also helps ensure the UK continues to lead the way in developing pioneering health technology. With a faster, more flexible system in place, regulators will be able to respond to changes in technology or patient safety concerns as efficiently as possible.

Companies will need to register medical devices with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), ensuring suppliers follow strict safety checks and enabling tough enforcement action if something goes wrong.

Baroness Nicola Blackwood, who has since stepped down from her role as Health Minister, said: “I am determined to help everyone who uses our world-leading NHS to access pioneering, cutting-edge treatments as soon as possible.

“The new bill will give our most treasured institution further freedom to innovate to improve the lives of countless people and protect patient safety to the highest standards.

“It will slash red tape, support uptake of treatments for people with rare diseases and empower those in the NHS who know what’s best for their patients to deliver the best quality care.”

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