Benefits of minimally invasive technology debated at UK
22 July 2008
A cross section of members of parliament, clinicians and patient
groups came together in London last week to debate the benefits of
minimally invasive technology (MIT) at a parliamentary reception.
Titled Innovative medical devices: the real cost of not treating
and hosted by Des Turner MP, the event focused on sudden cardiac death
and chronic pain caused by nerve problems (neuropathic) and restricted
blood flow (ischaemic). Guest speakers included Laura Nelson, Project
and Campaign Manager at Arrhythmia Alliance, Professor Jon Raphael, an
elected member to the Council of the British Pain Society, Mark
McIntyre, Director of Public Affairs and Health Economics, Boston
Scientific UK and Ireland and consultant cardiologist Dr Richard
Schilling of St Bartholomew’s Hospital.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to highlight the benefits for
patients, the NHS and the economy available from these new devices,”
commented Des Turner MP. “Investing in medical technologies not only
improves and saves the lives of patients, but the long-term advantages
to the economy are very tangible.
“Reducing premature deaths and increasing patients’ quality of life
means that they can stay in work and contribute to the UK economy and
the tax system.”
Today’s advances in medical technology reduce the trauma of surgery
and shock to the body which enables patients to recover more quickly.
This has the additional benefits of allowing surgeons to treat more
patients; reducing patient waiting times, minimising the risk of
hospital acquired infection and making it less likely for patients to be
re-admitted to hospital.
Heart failure and chronic neuropathic and ischaemic pain are two
examples of conditions that can now be more successfully managed through
minimally invasive options rather than traditional surgeries.
Sudden cardiac arrest claims approximately 100,000 lives every year.
Furthermore the cost of heart failure to the NHS has been estimated at
£700 million a year, with hospital care accounting for 70% of these
"One million people in the UK suffer from an arrhythmia. This
condition not only affects a person physically but also impacts their
personal outlook on life. Technological advancements which reduce trauma
and pain for patient, while saving time and money for health service,
have to be regarded as significant contributors to the whole pathway of
care," said Laura Nelson, Arrhythmia Alliance.
Chronic pain affects up to half of the adult population at some time
in their lives. Selected neuropathic and ischaemic pain conditions
account for an important minority of such cases of chronic pain because
the degree of pain and disability is high and there is a proven
“Chronic pain is managed by a multidisciplinary approach. However,
often only limited pain relief can be obtained and a patient’s only
option is to managed their ability to cope with pain through a variety
of therapeutic techniques,” remarked Professor Jon Raphael, British Pain
“For selected painful conditions, effective pain relieving treatments
do exist. From a wealth of clinical experience, spinal cord stimulation
appears effective in a wide variety of neuropathic pain conditions. All
of these conditions have severe pain, disability and substantial
economic costs that are significantly reduced by successful treatment
with spinal cord stimulation.”
Demonstration stands at the event provided guests with the
opportunity to interact with MIT in order to fully understand how the
Examples on show included internal defibrillators. For people at risk
of sudden cardiac death these small iPod-size devices are a built-in
‘lifesaver’ that regulates abnormal heart rhythm and manages the pain of
Innovative spinal cord simulators were also available. Spinal cord
stimulation (SCS) is an evidence-based therapy to treat patients with
severe chronic neuropathic and ischaemic pain. The rechargeable devices
reduce costs through avoiding hospital visits for patients.
“SCS and internal defibrillators are a cost-effective option for
patients. The demand for these and similar devices will continue to grow
as they improve patient care and increase health service productivity,”
said Mark McIntyre, Director of Public Affairs and Health Economics,
Boston Scientific UK and Ireland.
The importance of a joined-up approach which addresses both health
and employment was highlighted in Dame Carol Black’s Fit for Work
Review. The report also highlights the role of early intervention
and MIT technologies to enable patients to recover and return to work
For more information on the review see: