Stroke-reducing heart implants and a new drug to treat osteoporosis in men are among a host of new treatments that will now be routinely available for thousands of patients on the NHS.
It announced plans to provide the latest innovative treatments for patients, just days after celebrating its 70th anniversary.
Hundreds of patients each year will now benefit from a procedure called ‘left atrial appendage occlusion’. It reduces the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beat), who cannot take blood thinning medication. It is expected that around 400 patients will be treated in year one, building to more than 1,000 patients treated each year by year five.
Men with osteoporosis – a condition which causes bones to lose their strength and increases the chances of them breaking – will also be able to access a drug, ‘Teriparatide’, for the first time. It works by increasing the formation of bone and so reducing the risk of fractures and is recommended for people who have had fractures despite having tried other drug treatments.
Until now Teriparatide has only been available on the NHS for women, since those who have gone through the menopause are at highest risk of osteoporosis. However, it also affects a significant number of men, who can now also benefit from the drug treatment.
Another new treatment becoming available on the NHS is ‘Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy’ (SDR) – a complex procedure aimed at relieving tight and stiff muscles in people with cerebral palsy, especially children. The condition can cause movement and balance problems, but the SDR treatment can help children who were previously unable to walk to become mobile and independent. It involves operating on the nerves in the spine and will now be available immediately in named hospitals across England.
Meanwhile, a surgical procedure to relieve the intense pain of chronic pancreatitis (a condition that causes long-standing inflammation of the pancreas) is also being introduced. The pancreas is removed, but some of its hormone-producing cells (known as islets) are then transplanted into the patient’s liver where they continue to produce the insulin needed to help control blood sugar. The procedure can dramatically improve the patient’s quality of life and will also alleviate pressure on local NHS budgets and services through helping with long-term pain management.
Patients with haemophilia will also benefit as two new cutting edge treatments are introduced. ‘Emicizumab’ works in a new way to other treatments for bleeding disorders and represents a major breakthrough. Also available on the NHS will be ‘susoctocog alfa’ for acquired haemophilia A, a new lifesaving treatment which is highly effective in acute circumstances – such as on the operating table – when other drugs have not worked.
Other treatments now funded include three cancer treatments and a new procedure to restore sight in some patients. The move is the result of NHS England’s latest specialised commissioning prioritisation process. All the new treatments were independently assessed for their clinical benefit and cost by a panel made up of doctors, health experts and patient representatives.
Professor Stephen Powis, Medical Director for NHS England, said: “This is fantastic news for patients and their families. The new treatments that will be available on the NHS are the kind of innovations that the National Health Service has been delivering for the last 70 years and will continue to do so in the years to come.”