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England suspends fund to speed NHS uptake of innovative treatments


England's National Health Service (NHS) on Monday announced it is to suspend a new fund which was designed to speed up adoption of innovative treatments and services.

In a statement, James Palmer, national clinical director for specialised services at NHS England, said the Specialised Services Commissioning Innovation Fund (SSCIF) has been suspended on cost grounds.

The UK's pharma trade body, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said in a separate statement it was disappointed with the decision because the fund could have accelerated adoption of specialist treatments and services.

Establishing commissioning arrangement for NHS England since the introduction of a new organisational structure in April had been a "significant challenge" causing "unplanned expenditure", Palmer said.

The 50 million pound fund, which was due to start operating in September, had been suspended because it was not a "core" part of NHS England's work, Palmer said.

"We have had to look more closely at what we need to do to deliver our core business," said Palmer.

"This has meant we have made the difficult decision not to proceed with the SSCIF as this programme sits outside the mainstream commissioning responsibilities on which we need to focus."

"This has been a tough decision. We have taken it with great care having considered what is overall in the best interests of patients," Palmer added.

Stephen Whitehead, chief executive of the ABPI, said in a Monday response statement: "The ABPI is disappointed that the SSCIF has been suspended”.

As part of the "much-lauded" Innovation Health and Wealth programme, (IHW), Whitehead said SSCIF had the potential to benefit patients by facilitating and accelerating the adoption of innovative treatments and services.

"It is important that there are no further cuts or suspensions to the IHW programme as this will almost certainly impact on patients," the ABPI said.

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