A Medical Device Daily

Half of those surveyed in the UK believe that in 10 years they will have to pay toward some National Health Service (NHS) services they need as a patient, according to new research published by the British Medical Association (BMA; London) on the eve of its annual conference.

The BMA commissioned the Hamilton Lock research firm to survey members of the public about the effectiveness of changes to the NHS over the past decade and to seek their views on commercial companies providing healthcare to NHS patients and on future funding of the NHS.

Half of the 1,000-plus members of the general public interviewed said that in 10 years' time they expect to make a contribution toward NHS services they may need as a patient. Nine in ten respondents (93%) agree/strongly agree that the NHS should continue to be funded from UK taxes and remain free at the point of use.

Other findings included:

— Two in five (42%) of the general public agree/strongly agree that changes to the NHS in the past 10 years have succeeded in making the NHS better for patients. Just over a third (36%) disagree or strongly disagree.

— Just over half (51%) of respondents oppose the government's policy encouraging commercial companies to provide NHS healthcare to patients. Almost two in three (58%) disagree with commercial companies making a profit for shareholders from providing NHS care.

Hamish Meldrum, MD, chairman of BMA Council, said, "Although the public strongly supports the principles of the NHS and wishes to preserve it as a tax-funded system, they are clearly worried about the future funding of the health service and the government's direction of travel on health policy. It is possible that the English government's increasing use of the commercial sector in providing NHS services is fueling patients' concerns that the NHS will begin to charge for some care in the future."

He added, "The public may also fear that with rising drug and treatment costs, advances in medical technology and increasing demand for services, the NHS will no longer be able to afford a completely comprehensive health service."

The BMA noted that it has long argued for the need for a fully-informed public, professional and political debate about what the NHS can provide, given that there will always be finite financial resources and the need for this debate is long overdue.

"It would be a travesty if, by default, charges were introduced, destroying the ethos of a universal and equitable healthcare system that is valued by patients and admired across the world," the association said.

Allium signs two distributors

Allium Medical Group (Caesarea, Israel) said it has signed exclusive distribution deals for both its ureteral and biliary stents with MenkeMed (Munich, Germany) for the German and Austrian markets and Ecce Dutoit Medical for the Belgian, Dutch and Luxemburgian (Benelux) markets. The values of the deals were not disclosed.

Founded in 2001, Allium develops site-specific stents for various uses with applications in the urinary and gastro-intestinal tract. It received CE-marking for its biliary and ureteral stents last year and began distribution of the biliary stents in June 2007 and the ureteral stents in December 2007 in various European markets, including Italy and Scandinavia.

"We are [pleased] to be working with our new partners, MenkeMed and Ecce Dutoit, who are providing Allium Medical a platform to major European markets in order to realize our potential," said Daniel Yachia, MD, president/CSO and senior consultant-urology for the Allium Group. "Their support of our technology is a testament to their commitment to offering the European healthcare community innovative solutions."

Yachia said Allium stents "are truly revolutionary because they are dynamic, functional and easily removable, giving doctors solutions to meet demand for minimally invasive solutions to increase patient comfort and convenience while not compromising on treatment efficacy."

Two different deployment devices of the Allium biliary stents allow endoscopic (by gastroenterologists) or percutaneous trans-hepatic (by interventional radiologists) insertion. The company's ureteral stents also are mounted on two different deployment devices, allowing endoscopic retrograde by urologists or percutaneous antegrade or combined antegrade and retrograde insertion with or without an interventional radiologist.

"Menkemed is committed to the distribution of novel and innovative medical and surgical equipment in Germany, the largest medical market in Europe, and Austria," said CEO Frank Menke. "We are . . . impressed with Allium's site-specific, anatomically and functionally compatible stents and believe that they offer significant advantages over other products in the market."

He noted that Allium's stents are made out of metal and are self-expandable. "It has been cited in many studies that large caliber metal stents are more acceptable to patients with longer survival rates as compared to plastic stents which have to be changed every two to four months," Menke said.

Based in Belgium, Ecce Dutoit Medical is a leader in the field of medical imaging, including radiology and nuclear medicine, as well as a prominent presence in the urological and gastroenterogical market in the Benelux countries.

"We are [pleased] to be providing the Benelux market with the Allium ureteral and biliary stents which have a large caliber, and are thin-walled. Both the biliary and ureteral stents stand out from the competition by being entirely covered stents that have the uniqueness of dynamism to fit to the function of the organ and the advantage of easy removability," said Philip Meyers, CEO of Ecce Dutoit Medical.

Accord for business continuity suite

Office-Shadow (London), a business continuity solutions company, reported that Agnentis, designer and implementer of solutions for NHS Trusts, has entered into a long-term agreement to distribute the Shadow-Planner suite of business continuity solutions to the healthcare market in England and Wales.

Agnentis is working with Office-Shadow experts to create a fully customized business continuity solution for the healthcare community.