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Ex-Labour health minister to oversee fast-tracking of new technologies


By Valeria Fiore
Journalist Intern
20 June 2018

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Former labour health minister Lord Ara Darzi has been appointed to chair the Accelerated Access Collaborative (ACC).

Lord Darzi is replacing the previous chair, Sir Andrew Witty, after he resigned in March to take on a new role as chief executive of Optum, a health services and innovation company.

The ACC is a joint ‘government–industry group’ that will speed up the process of introducing breakthrough products to the NHS, making them available up to four years earlier than would otherwise have been the case –though an accelerated access pathway to be launched later this year.

A £86m funding package has been allocated to the project ‘to help innovators of all sizes gain access to the NHS market and get their products to patients’, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

Lord Darzi resigned as health minister in 2009 to devote more time to his clinical work.

At present, he is chair of the Imperial College Health Partners and chairman and director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London. He is also an honorary consultant surgeon at Imperial College Hospital NHS Trust.

Commenting on Lord Darzi’s appointment and referring to the need to accelerate the process of identifying innovative technologies to be used in healthcare, health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy said:

‘The accelerated access pathway will speed up this process so patients can benefit from the best technologies far quicker – and I’m delighted to appoint Lord Darzi as the chair to oversee this important work.’

Lord Darzi said: ‘It is vitally important that patients have rapid access to cost-effective, transformative treatments on the NHS. Doing so will not only improve the health of our patients, but will promote future collaboration between the life sciences sector and the NHS post-Brexit – benefiting the British economy and creating jobs.

‘I’m thrilled to be building on the great foundations laid by Sir Andrew Witty for the AAC to deliver this.’

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