Doctor visits with patient
In June 2015, Quintiles Integrated Market Access team members, along with voluntary and patient organization leads, representatives from charities, NGOs and the pharma industry, senior clinical and commercial NHS leaders, healthcare professional body representatives and politicians from all parties, were invited to take part in an informal 2020health post-election reception. This was hosted by Bernard Jenkin MP at the House of Commons and addressed by Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England. Stevens took this opportunity, the first in front of this type of audience following the election, to offer an insight into NHS England strategy and delivery and talk about three Ps – the pride of staff working in NHS England, the pressures facing healthcare, and the possibilities that exist to make a difference. 

Pride and pressure 

In 2013, the UK’s NHS celebrated its 65th anniversary, and the core principles are still to: 

  • be free at the point of delivery
  • be based on clinical need, not ability to pay. 
Its leadership and staff are proud to work within an organization that maintains these principles. However, the changing population demographics and increasing levels of age- and lifestyle-related disease treated over long periods by safer and more effective (but often costly) drugs, on top of budgets that are being squeezed year on year, mean that the pressures on the staff and infrastructure to deliver care are growing. All members of staff, and indeed all stakeholders, need to take the opportunity to make a difference, in order to make sure that the NHS principles set down in 1948 can continue, and improve. 

Steps towards patient-centric medicine 

According to Stevens, over the next period NHS England will focus on a number of key areas, including cancer, mental health, and maternity and learning disability services. These will move the emphasis from long-term hospital-based care to community-based primary care, and will support the integration of health and social care. This requires a shift towards patient-centric medicine, and greater investment into primary care and patient education. The result will be to empower patients to make choices about treatment and work together with healthcare professionals in order to improve their health and their disease management. 

Where biopharma can help 

As a tax-based healthcare service, the NHS has limited budgets to supply treatments for a growing and aging population. Biopharma companies can help to improve access by working in collaboration with healthcare providers on a more local level. As an example, companies can work together in partnership with clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to tailor local service design and purchasing at a local, or even patient level. While still remaining within the overall NHS England strategic agenda, this will effectively create an individualized commissioning process that could improve access for patients, and especially those with the greatest level of need. 

Mapping pathways and redesigning service access can allow patients to access services more easily or more cost-effectively, with better outcomes, as well as freeing up money to spend on drugs, and improving the experience for both staff and patients. You can read a full case study here. 

Getting to the goal 

While individualized commissioning and patient-centric medicine is the ideal, it will take time to put the networks of communication in place between all the stakeholders, and provide the level of evidence of clinical and cost-effectiveness that is tailored to each area of local need. However, some biopharma companies are already taking the lead to improve access for patients across many therapeutic areas, including cancer, and by working together the outcomes can only improve. 

To learn more about our thinking and to understand the way Quintiles approach supporting the NHS to improve access for patients, we recommend you read:

  1. The Patient Pyramid: Improving Adherence and Patient Outcomes in the UK
  2. How Outcomes Evaluations Can Increase NHS Access to Innovative Drugs
  3. Applying Real-world Observations to Improve Patient Outcomes
  4. Market Access UK: The Importance of Early Stakeholder Engagement