Why medical appliances are more expensive than homes
Medical appliances are a popular item on sale for the first time in the UK in 2017, but they are becoming increasingly expensive for many people, according to research from the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).
The RCGP said it would like to see a “national standardisation” of medical appliances and that the “medical appliances sector needs to work with government to ensure that the prices are affordable for all consumers”.
The RCGPs report, published on Tuesday, said that while the cost of medical devices remained the same across the board, a large number of devices are becoming more expensive due to technology advances.
For example, the RCGP is concerned about the growing use of medical cameras and imaging devices.
The RCPG said that in the year ending March 2017, there were nearly 3,000 devices in use in hospitals across the UK and that about half of them were either medical cameras or imaging devices, according the RCGPG.
The report said that for the three largest hospitals, the number of medical equipment items used rose from 4,000 in 2015 to 10,000 last year.
This was partly due to the introduction of new technologies, such as the use of MRI scanners, which allowed doctors to see the inside of a patient’s head.
The number of imaging devices also increased, the report said.
It added that the use and size of these devices increased significantly in the past three years, with the average size of a device being larger than a standard camera.
“We are seeing increasing demand for medical equipment and the number and complexity of medical device items has increased dramatically,” said Professor Peter Clarke, chairman of the RCGs medical appliances committee, in a statement.
“The use of imaging equipment is growing rapidly, which has made it increasingly expensive to provide health services in this rapidly changing market, particularly for patients.”
Clarke said that a number of hospitals are looking at the issue of medical medical devices being “overpriced” and he called on the medical equipment industry to work together to “reduce the number or cost of these items”.
However, Clarke said the RCPG has a number plans in place, including a plan to increase the number that are covered by a contract to a certain number, which will be rolled out across the NHS over the next five years.
This will also cover some devices that are “in the process of being phased out”, but will not be covered by contracts until they are covered.
He said the focus for the RCGS committee will be on how to reduce the cost for healthcare providers and patients.
The organisation is currently calling on the health secretary to “work with the medical appliance industry to develop a national standardisation scheme” for medical devices.
Clarke said he was hopeful that the government would make a commitment to this.
“In the short term, we need to reduce cost, but in the longer term we need a national, common standardisation regime to provide certainty to healthcare professionals and patients,” he said.
“This is the time for NHS hospitals to take the lead in helping patients and their healthcare providers to minimise the number, complexity and cost of devices they have to purchase.”
The RCGG also called for a focus on reducing the “misclassification of medical appliance purchases”.
“While there is no evidence of a lack of transparency in the medical device market, there is a clear lack of action from the healthcare industry to ensure medical devices are correctly classified in the marketplace, especially when they are increasingly more expensive to produce,” Clarke said.
The Royal College’s report said the cost differences between medical devices and other goods were due to a number things, including the technology that they use, the type of equipment being used, and how much money is spent on the healthcare device.
In addition, it said the healthcare devices sector was also “in a very competitive market”.
“The industry has not seen a significant reduction in the number they produce, and while the sector has seen a reduction in turnover, the cost structure for medical appliances is not changing much,” the report read.
“It is important that the industry works with government, the medical profession, and healthcare professionals to improve the cost and volume of medical goods.”
The RCGs report came after it was revealed that the NHS spent more than £1bn a year on medical devices, with only £4.5bn of that being spent on patient care.
It comes as a major NHS fund to help hospitals improve patient care was axed earlier this month, after the NHS found the financial burden to be “too great”.
A total of £1.1bn of funds will be scrapped from the £6.5 billion Health Foundation Trust (HFT) Health Improvement Fund, which had been set up to help the NHS meet its cost of providing care to the most vulnerable patients.