Access to drive healthcare innovation in UK Life Sciences

By basing your business in the UK, you gain access to the largest national healthcare system in the world. Launched in December 2011, alongside the Strategy for UK Life Sciences, Innovation Health and Wealth (IHW) set out a delivery agenda to embed and spread innovation at pace and scale throughout the NHS. It included a number of ambitious actions that will deliver game-changing improvements in the quality and value of care delivered in the NHS. They are designed as an integrated set of measures that together will support the NHS in achieving a systematic change in the way it operates, delivering high quality care, value for money and driving economic growth.

The UK’s capabilities and strengths

Clinical translation

Government and Industry Partners

Department of Health



Health Technology Assessment

The UK is a world leader in health technology assessment and home to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). With an increasing focus on clinical and cost-effectiveness globally, and the need to demonstrate value to the patient and to health systems, industry can leverage the UK’s expertise to develop an evidence base to support market access, uptake and diffusion. Through NICE International, its non-profit fee-for-service consultancy arm, NICE works with governments and other organisations from around the world to promote efficiency and quality in healthcare systems.

Single health boards Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

The Devolved Administrations of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all provide single access points for industry to their respective populations. This ensures faster access to the right contacts, key opinion leaders, and patient cohorts to accelerate the development of your technology. With well-characterised populations and tightly integrated research and market access in the Devolved Administrations, they can be a great launch pad for market access and adoption of your technology in the rest of the UK, Europe, and beyond.

In Scotland:

  • The Scottish Government’s Health and Social Care Department is responsible for NHS Scotland and oversees the 14 NHS health boards, seven special health boards and one Public Health Body in Scotland.

  • Health services in Scotland are delivered through the 14 NHS health boards. These boards provide strategic leadership and performance management for the entire local NHS system in their areas. The seven special health boards include: Scottish Ambulance Service, NHS 24, State Hospitals Board for Scotland, NHS Health Scotland, NHS National Services Scotland, The National Waiting Times Centre Board, and NHS Education for Scotland. NHS Healthcare Improvement Scotland is a Public Health Body.

In Wales:

The Welsh Government is responsible for the NHS in Wales and oversees seven Local Health Boards and three national NHS trusts in Wales, consisting of the Welsh Ambulance Services Trust, Velindre NHS Trust and Public Health Wales NHS Trust.

In Northern Ireland:

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Health in Northern Ireland oversees the Health and Social Care Board, Public Health Agency and the five regional Health & Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland as well as the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

By basing your business in the UK, you have the opportunity to engage with four healthcare systems that are working together to pro-actively develop an integrated healthcare economy. Our ambition is that by working with the UK, we can support your business access new markets.

Key Fact

Creation of AHSNs will facilitate access into the NHS and a unique opportunity to align education, clinical research, informatics, innovation, training and education and healthcare delivery

Success story

GlaxoSmithKline tests the effectiveness of a pre-license medicine using real world data.

The study is a collaboration between GlaxoSmithKline, North West e-Health (NWeH), The University of Manchester, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Salford’s local general practitioners, and local community pharmacists. Collectively these organisations’ involvement in the project has been unique and is a recognised world first for the use of such data

The purpose of the Salford Lung Study is to test the safety and effectiveness of a new treatment for asthma and COPD, compared with standard medications used for these conditions. The study is sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

The initiative will draw on Salford’s e-Health records infrastructure, a clinical information system that provides a single, integrated electronic patient record across primary and secondary care. This will ensure patients are closely monitored over the course of the study, yet with minimal intrusion into their everyday lives.

Professor Martin Gibson, associate director of industry at the National Institute for Health Research Comprehensive Research Network, described the Salford Lung Study as “a major advance in the way we do clinical trials”.

Dr David Leather, Medical Director of GSK’s respiratory Centre of Excellence explained “This study is a first in the world, testing a pre-license medicine in a real world setting and is a tribute to the partnerships we’ve created together, our collaborators and the HCPs and people of Salford.”

For further information on the UK’s ability to access and drive healthcare innovation please read the new UK Life Science Prospectus which can be downloaded here.

Contact us

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) can provide further information in a range of areas such as market opportunities, local skills and expertise, industry clusters, universities, incentives and funding support. Contact the Invest in the UK team by completing an enquiry form here.

Sectors: Life Sciences and Science
Export Action Plan