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Infection-cutting surgical suture and catheter fixer to be fast-tracked for NHS use

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A surgical suture and a device for securing peripherally inserted central catheters (PICCs) are to be fast-tracked for use across the NHS in England, because of their potential to reduce infection risk.

The two are among four bits of new technology that NHS England has announced will be added to a central purchasing scheme designed to speed up the adoption of innovation by the health service.

“These technologies will improve patient safety and potentially reduce the need for expensive tests”

Simon Stevens

Plus Sutures is a new type of surgical suture that has been shown to reduce the rate of surgical site infection, such as MRSA, through the use of antimicrobial suture packs.

Meanwhile, SecurAcath is a device to secure a PICC that results in shorter maintenance times and less need for device replacement.

“SecurAcath is easy to insert, well tolerated, associated with a low incidence of catheter-related complications and does not usually need removing while the catheter is in place,” according to medical technology guidance published last June by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

The other two innovations are a new type of bowel scope that is expected to identify more cases of cancer and image analysis software that creates a 3D model of the heart.

They have been selected from among 250 applicants to join the Innovation and Technology Payment scheme for 2018-19, because they were able to demonstrate sufficiently strong evidence of efficacy and value.

“By buying these four innovations centrally, NHS England has removed the barriers to their spread”

Tony Young

Selected innovations had to already be in use and ready to be rolled out widely, and delivering significantly increased quality, improved efficiency and patient benefit.

The programme – similar to the NHS Innovation Accelerator – is intended to deliver improvements in patient care by cutting bureaucracy for clinicians and other innovators and encouraging uptake across the NHS via central commissioning.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “As we celebrate the NHS’s 70th birthday, the NHS continues to champion innovation.

“These technologies will improve patient safety and potentially reduce the need for invasive and expensive tests,” he said.

This is the second year at NHS England has run the programme to identify and fast track specific innovations into the health service. It said the 15 Academic Health Science Networks across England would not take direct responsibility for accelerating uptake locally.

Professor Tony Young, national clinical lead for innovation at NHS England, said: “For new innovations to flourish and spread at scale, access to funding is critical.

“By buying these four innovations centrally NHS England has removed the barriers to the spread of these innovations so patients can benefit faster,” he said.

“Later this year we will be announcing the next round of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals joining the growing numbers of entrepreneurs developing new and innovative treatments for patients from within the NHS,” he added.

In addition, NHS England has today also announced £1.5m to “pump prime” a nationally backed trial of DrDoctor, a digital tool that may help cut missed hospital appointments.

The money will fund an evaluation of DrDoctor, which allows patients to view, change and schedule appointments, to demonstrate its potential in a “real world” setting.

NHS England noted that, according to the latest figures, almost eight million hospital appointments were missed in 2016-17 – at a total cost of almost £1bn.

The four innovations are

  • HeartFlow – Advanced image analysis software that creates a 3D model of the coronary arteries and analyses the impact that blockages have on blood flow to rapidly diagnose patients with suspected coronary artery disease. The use of the device can avoid the need for invasive investigations such as coronary angiography. NICE estimate up to 35,000 people per year could be eligible.
  • Plus Sutures – A new type of surgical suture that reduces the rate of surgical site infection, such as MRSA, through the use of antimicrobial suture packs. There were 823 cases of MRSA reported in the NHS in 2016-17.
  • Endocuff Vision – A new type of ‘bowel scope’ that improves colorectal examination for patients undergoing bowel cancer tests. For every 1,000 people screened for cancer, it is estimated that six cases could be avoided thanks to early detection through the use of this device.
  • SecurAcath – A device to secure catheters that reduces the infection risk for patients with a peripherally inserted central catheter, which are normally used in those needing intravenous access for several weeks or months in both inpatient and outpatient settings. NICE estimate up to 120,000 people per year could be eligible.
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