Innovate and regulate, but make Manchester a world beater

Friday, 1st December 2017

pro-manchester’s sector group roundtable explored the city’s major opportunity to change the face of healthcare

Manchester has a major opportunity to be at the forefront of healthcare innovation, but the gulf between entrepreneurship and regulation needs to be bridged. That was the key message from a roundtable held in November at the Lowry Hotel by pro-manchester, in association with Manchester Metropolitan University and Carter Corson Business Psychologists.

In a wide-ranging discussion on how the city can make the most of its devolved health budget, a group of professionals, entrepreneurs, regulators and business support groups came together to discuss the opportunities and challenges ahead.

“I think the UK is good at innovating, but it’s actually translating and commercialising that [which needs work],” said Trustech’s Richard Deed. “Regulation might hamper it occasionally; the issue is there’s a lot more translational support required for companies to explain why they have to go through these hurdles, why you have to jump so high.”

At a time when the role of Health Innovation Manchester is still being defined, Deed and others around the table highlighted the need for education in a sector which faces stringent regulation, alongside the pressing need to innovate service provision and technology.

“The regulations are there for good reason,” said Lucid Innovation’s Alastair Williamson. “But how many people in universities, or similar, study healthcare regulation? It’s not stuff that is really part of people’s professional development.”

Matt Hunt from Apadmi Enterprises added: “There are a lot of people we work with who are thinking about the outcome, not the detail. If healthcare wants innovators, the sector should offer the guidance and enabling advice to be able to work in the sector. If I was on a medical device project tomorrow, who would I go and turn to?”

The group agreed a priority for the city was to establish clear lines of communication between clinicians, regulators, entrepreneurs, technology companies and the NHS. Leadership was needed, they said, from the connectors and collaborators in the system to take full advantage of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care.

Williams added: “I think we have got the biggest opportunity ever with the integration of health and social care and we should grab it. For businesses like mine, it is one of the biggest differentiators.”

Key Quotes

On Innovation…

“It’s about benchmarking ourselves. Healthcare is so behind other sectors. Why is it I can get a text message to get my eyes tested, but my GP struggles with that. There are simple innovations are not filtered through.” Kay Faulkner, MMU

“It’s to do with structural innovation as well, which goes beyond the services. Now we are in this realm of putting people at the centre of healthcare, but recognising the facilities are in the wrong place. We need different collaborative partners to make it work.” Susan Webster, independent director

On the Challenges…;

“We live in a short-term environment where budgets are set one to three years ahead. Many of the changes and innovations you need are longer term than that. We have come across things which make the system more efficient, but the hospital gets paid less money because they adopt them.” Richard Deed, Trustech

“We come across the challenge and interplay between innovative practice and established practice all the time. It’s challenging, we don’t want to stifle innovation. As long as a doctor is practicing with evidence-based medicine, following our basic guidance, we try not to get drawn in.” Joanna Farrell, GMC

“The relationship between the doctor and the healthcare professional has changed. Patients know what they do themselves can make a huge difference to their health. And they have also researched their condition before they go in to an appointment. We need to look differently at the relationship between the patient, healthcare professional and the new treatments and technologies coming up.” Holly Bontoft, Fieldfisher

On the Future…

“The problem is huge, but it has to be solved. The NHS didn’t exist 65 years ago. For someone at that point to say that we need free healthcare for every person in the country, that must have been mind-blowing. One of the lessons of humanity is that we do solve these ridiculous problems eventually. Maybe Devo Manc is the catalyst.” Gareth Banks, AHR Global

In attendance: Ian MacArthur, Business Growth Hub; Richard Deed, Trustech; Joanna Farrell, GMC; Holly Bontoft, Fieldfisher; Sheena Macpherson, MIOTIFY; Matt Hunt, Apadmi; Kay Faulkner, MMU; Colin Callow, Business Growth Hub; Anne Fairhurst, Mills & Reeve; Flora McCabe, Mills & Reeve; Gareth Banks, AHR Global; Alastair Williamson, Lucid Innovation, Susan Webster, independent director

The event was hosted by MMU’s Michael Taylor and Rupert Cornford from Carter Corson Business Psychologists