The National Health System (NHS) UK is a rare example of socialized health care service where almost all services are free for UK residents. It was founded in 1948 on the principle that “good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth”. Based on this idea, services and most prescription drugs are provided free of charge. Optical and dental services constitute an exemption to this rule. Their treatments include health check, emergency and long-term treatment and end-of-life care.
The NHS is made up of four divisions: England, Scotland, Wales and Norther Ireland. Within the respective NHS there are further territorial divisions which guarantee services to their patients. Their operations are mainly funded directly through taxation. Their primary goals are to provide information and care to patients, provide funding for general practitioners and medical prescriptions, and improve quality of care and to oversee clinical commissioning groups.
For product registration in the UK health care system, the CE marking needs to be acquired from the Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, which is part of the Department of Health. After their approval, the medical device is registered and can be used, purchased and assessed by the NHS. Manufacturers are, in principle, free to set their prices but need to negotiate it with the purchasers, mainly the government. The NHS has therefore established a set of mechanism to evaluate the cost effectiveness of such products.
Health technology assessment occurs separately in the four different regions. In England, the NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) has a vital role. It was established to provide national guidance in the form of reviews on specific health technologies, including medical devices. Their review is influenced by the technology’s likely health benefit for patients, its impact on government policies and NHS resources. Cost-efficiency is, therefore, an important factor in NHS and NICE assessments.
- Reimbursement consultation in the UK
- Technical explanation or complete registration management
- Labelling support in the UK
- Advice on medical-device advertising according to British law
- Research, co-ordination and support in required product tests
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