A Medical Device Daily

UK Health Secretary John Reid reported this week how the government's £135 billion investment in the National Health Service (NHS) will be allocated to Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in England over the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 fiscal years. Some £64.3 billion is allocated for the first year and £70.4 billion for the second.

He said the funding will guarantee that the NHS continues to deliver improved services and make further progress in tackling such major diseases as cancer and heart disease.

“I am allocating more money to the NHS frontline than ever before,“ Reid said. “This is an historic level of sustained funding for the NHS across England.“

Saying the distribution of money, in both the north and south of England, “is fairer than ever before,“ Reid added that the funding ensures that “the most deprived areas, where there are appalling inequalities in life expectancy and concentrated problems of diseases, such as lung cancer or heart disease, receive extra investment.“

That, he said, means the NHS frontline will use the money “to speed up access to operations and tackle bottlenecks [such as] diagnostic tests.“

Importantly, Reid said the funding will enable the NHS to achieve a maximum waiting time of 18 weeks by 2008 — “reduced from 18 months only a few years ago.“

The NHS allocation is based on four principles:

  • Increases for all. No PCT in England will receive less than an average of 8.1% per year over the two years.
  • Improving access to services. Waiting times for operations are being tackled, from 18-month waits down to a maximum 18 weeks by 2008.
  • Making prevention as important as cure. The cash allocations will help to fund the Public Health White Paper initiatives such as school nurses, community matrons and health trainers.
  • Fairness, with those areas in greatest need being allocated more money. Last November, Reid reported the creation of 88 spearhead PCTs as those most in urgent need of action to tackle health deprivation and reduce inequalities in life expectancy and infant mortality. These areas have received a higher level of funding than other areas, he said, making the allocation much fairer.

“Patients want the NHS to move away from being a sickness service toward becoming a true health service,“ Reid said. “[These] allocations will help the NHS locally to recruit school nurses and health trainers to tackle the growing trends in obesity as well as improve services for sexually transmitted infections.“

In outlining the funding program, he added that NHS reform “must continue alongside the investment to increase capacity and diversity of provision so we can offer patients faster access to better-quality services than ever before while remaining true to the founding principle of the NHS of equal access to services free at the point of need.“

The Department of Health said that three years ago, PCTs received an average of £907 per head of funding for patients. This week's announcement brings the average across England up to £1,388 per patient and around £1,710 for the areas with greatest need.

Reid said that the funding provides greater support, closer to home, for people with long-term conditions and assures that there will be further progress in tackling what he termed “the big killer diseases.“ He noted that the NHS is on track to secure by 2010 a 40% decline from 1997 in death rates from heart disease and stroke, and a 20% fall in death rates from cancer.

For the period from 2003-2004 to 2007-2008, expenditure on the NHS in England will increase on average by 7.2% a year over and above inflation.

CE mark for PolyGraft products

OsteoBiologics (OBI; San Antonio), a developer of tissue repair technologies, said it has received CE mark approval to market its PolyGraft family of products for bone and cartilage repair.

The PolyGraft material technology provides a scaffold for tissue repair that OBI said “is both biologically friendly and biomechanically stable.“

A composite of polylactide-co-glycolide, calcium sulfate and polyglycolide fibers, the PolyGraft material can be fabricated into products such as granules, blocks, wedges and other pre-formed shapes. The PolyGraft family of products includes the TruGraft BGS Granules, TruFit CB Plugs, TruWedge BGS Wedge and the TruBlock BGS Block.

The company said the clearance allows European surgeons to use OBI technology to repair bone and cartilage defects caused by either trauma or surgery.

Fred Dinger, president and CEO, said, “Since their introduction in the U.S., we have received a great deal of interest in OBI's products from the international community and we now can look forward to providing our tissue repair solutions to a broader range of patients.“

OsteoBiologics is focusing on commercializing and further developing its platform technologies in arthroscopy and sports medicine.

It also is forming strategic alliances with companies serving other areas of medicine such as spine, trauma, gen- eral orthopedics and wound care to leverage its technologies into those markets.

New name for Dutch firm

Temperature Data Systems (TDS; Sassenheim, the Netherlands) has changed its name to Sensitech Inc., reflecting its August 2004 acquisition by Sensitech (Beverly, Massachusetts).

TDS is a provider of cold chain monitoring services to customers in both the pharmaceutical and food industries. In addition to its headquarters in the Netherlands, Sensitech has offices in Spain, France and Germany, with agents and distributors in a number of other European countries, the Middle East and Africa.

Carel van Oosterzee, the former director of TDS and now vice president and managing director of Sensitech Europe, Middle East and Africa, said, “Our customers can expect this transition to be seamless, except that we will now be able to offer solutions with a new level of analysis and insight to interpret information and to develop and implement improvement strategies for their cold chain.“

The U.S. firm describes itself as the leading independent provider of cold-chain information and analysis that enable companies in the food and pharmaceuticals industries to protect the integrity, freshness and efficacy of temperature-sensitive products.