A Medical Device Daily

The UK Department of Health reported last week that the National Health Service (NHS) is in good financial health, with a £1.658 billion surplus for this fiscal year — more than triple the figure of the prior year.

The new figures were published in the "Quarter 4" report, which looks at NHS financial performance in January-March of this year, as throughout the year as a whole.

The NHS will end the year with an overall surplus of £1.658 billion that will stay within the NHS to improve patient care. This compares to a £515 million surplus in 2006/07, and a £547 million deficit in 2005/06.

There has also been improvement in reducing the gross deficit, which is now £122 million, down from £917 million gross deficit a year earlier and £1.312 billion in 2005/06.

Commenting on the report, David Flory, director general of NHS finance, performance and operations in the Department of Health, said, "We can look back on 2007/08 with pride. The NHS was set up to meet the health needs of the population. Our performance in 2007/08 has shown that 60 years on, the NHS is still delivering on its commitment to provide the best quality care for all.

He said, "This healthy surplus is a further indication that the NHS is now on a stable financial footing. Thanks to the tremendous efforts of those in the NHS, organizations now have the headroom and confidence to invest in transforming patient services, [while] having the flexibility to respond to fluctuations in demand."

Flory added, "This will be important for taking forward the Next Stage Review and implementing the 'visions' that clinicians have developed in Strategic Health Authority regions."

The Quarter 4 report said that, in addition to strengthening its financial position in 2007/08, the NHS also has met some "challenging targets," for example:

"We have made significant progress toward meeting our target of treating patients no longer than 18 weeks after their referral by a GP. We have met the milestone targets for March 2008 of 85% of admitted patients and 90% of non-admitted patients starting their treatment within 18 weeks of referral. The NHS is confident of meeting the final December target.

"The NHS has made great strides in reducing waits for diagnostic tests. Key diagnostic waiting times have fallen by 97% in 2 years. Patients now can expect to wait an average of just 2.1 weeks, compared with 6.1 weeks in April 2006, and 97% of patients now wait less than 6 weeks.

"MRSA infections are down 30% on the same quarter in the previous year. This indicates that the MRSA target is firmly within reach. In addition, C. difficile infections in the 65s and over are down 23% on the same quarter in the previous year.

Trial results said to be sustainable

Novadaq Technologies (Toronto) said that ophthalmologists from Sacco Hospital (Milan, Italy) reported at the recent Euroretina Conference in Vienna, Austria, independent 12-month follow-up data on patients treated with the OPTTX System in commercial practice.

The 12 month visual acuity (VA) data for those wet-AMD patients who were followed, some of whom had failed other treatments, continued to support previously reported six-month data presented at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Conference in April.

At 12 months, 23 patients were evaluable and the VA for a substantial majority (19, or 83%) of patients studied remained stable or improved. Fourteen of the 23 (61%) had no change or showed a 1- to 6-line improvement in VA. Five patients lost up to 3 lines and four patients lost more than 3 lines in VA.

The treating ophthalmologists concluded that the OPTTX technique was safe and reproducible. The company said the study suggests that treatment with OPTTX can be used as an alternative to the anti-VEGF drugs and that it appears that it can be safely applied before, after or in combination with anti-VEGF injections.

Giovanni Staurenghi, professor of ophthalmology, chairman of the Eye Clinic at Sacco Hospital and director of the School of Ophthalmology at the University of Milan, said, "OPTTX has allowed us to stabilize or improve vision in patients, many who had failed previous therapies, and really had no other treatment alternatives."

Novadaq said the OPTTX-2N1 System, which uses the same core technology as the commercially available SPY System, is a single device that performs multiple functions. It is designed to enable ophthalmologists and those trained in retinal subspecialties to diagnose, treat and provide on-going management of patients suffering from wet AMD.

New distribution accord in Italy for Misonix

Misonix (Farmingdale, New York), said it has entered into a new, three-year exclusive distribution and service agreement with SIAD Healthcare (Assago, Italy), for the distribution of the SonaStar Ultrasonic Surgical Aspiration System, the BoneScalpel Ultrasonic Bone Cutting System and the SonicOne Ultrasonic Wound Care System in that country.

The agreement includes minimum purchase requirements. Pursuant to a previous agreement, SIAD Healthcare already was selling SonaStar and SonicOne and has placed multiple systems into Italian hospitals.

SIAD Healthcare is member of Gruppo SIAD (Bergamo, Italy), a major participant in the European market for medical and industrial gasses. SIAD Healthcare distributes medical devices and capital equipment throughout the Italian market, with special emphasis on neurosurgery, spine surgery and wound management.

Misonix is a developer of minimally invasive ultrasonic medical device technology that is used in Europe for the ablation of cancerous tissue and worldwide for other acute health conditions.

The SonaStar system allows physicians to perform the selective removal of lesions and other abnormal tissue while sparing vessels as much as possible. It also is capable of performing precise bone shaving (shaping) and is compatible with most electrocautery devices, thus controlling bleeding during certain surgical procedures.

BoneScalpel is a new ultrasonic osteotome, or bone-cutting device, for use in orthopedic and neurological applications related to the spine and cranium. SonicOne is a tissue-specific cleansing and debridement system for effective removal of devitalized or necrotic tissue and fibrin deposits while sparing vital cellular structures, thus ensuring progress toward patient healing.