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Former rugby player and surgeon-turned-patient is a Med Tech Week winner

Jonathan Webb is not your average knee replacement patient. He is also a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon who specialises in knee surgery and sports medicine, and a former rugby player with a glittering career.

Jonathan played for Bristol and Bath Rugby Clubs and appeared 33 times for England, winning two Five Nations Grand Slams and reaching the Rugby World Cup Final in 1991. In 1992 he was voted Rugby Player of the Year.

Who better to talk about the benefits of medical technology at this year’s reception in the House of Commons to mark Medical Technology Awareness Week?

Joining MPs, Peers, NHS leaders, clinicians, patient group representatives, and medtech industry executives at the event in November, Jonathan spoke passionately about how his knee surgery had helped him get back to normal life and exercise again.

The patient’s voice

“Medical technology gives people control back,” Dean Russell, MP for Watford and Member of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, said as he introduced the event, pre-empting Jonathan’s words.

“Better use of medical technology is fundamental to improving healthcare,” he added, a point illustrated by Charlotte Austin, who shared her moving story about how technology had helped her manage Type 1 diabetes. Charlotte is one of the first recipients of the new hybrid closed loop system, also known as an ‘artificial pancreas’, technology has been described as the closest yet to a “practical cure” for diabetes.

Both Jonathan and Charlotte’s stories bring to life the potential power of medical technology to transform lives. They also emphasise the importance of the ‘patient’s voice’ in determining what technology is commissioned and funded.

“It’s vital that patients are involved at all levels in deciding what type of care is available in their area and in the development of care pathways,” said MTG Chair Barbara Harpham, as she launched the group’s new manifesto ‘Med Tech the Solution’.

The manifesto calls for patients to be consulted on decisions, for access to medical technology to be accelerated, and for fair and timely commissioning.

The year of medical technology

The reception also marked the twentieth anniversary of the MTG’s formation. Perhaps fitting then that this has been the year where medical technology has often been in the spotlight. “We have seen the impact of medical technology across the NHS to improve patient outcomes,” commented Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director at NHS England, highlighting the vital role that it has played throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Looking ahead

While the MTG’s twentieth anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate the impact of medtech over the past two decades, the group is looking ahead to the benefits it can bring in the future, in the short term in helping the NHS overcome the backlog of elective care, but also in improving efficiency and patient care down the line.

Other speakers at the event echoed this theme. “We are excited about the future of health and medical technology and our partners” said Dr Tim Ferris, Director of Transformation, NHS England, while Matt Whitty, Chief Executive, Accelerated Access Collaborative, described some exciting new technologies currently in development. “It’s our job to support the adoption of proven, effective technology,” he remarked.

A bright future for medtech

As MPs and Peers from all parties at the event backed a pledge for “improved access to medical technology to ensure patients across the UK receive the best possible care”, recognition of the value of medtech is clearly growing.

With the political will and a determination to improve equal access and adoption across the country, the future for medtech looks bright.

November 2021

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