Let’s work together to rebuild a stronger NHS

Collaborating to drive positive outcomes post COVID-19

By Hugo Breda, Managing Director, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices UK & Ireland.

Hugo BredaAs we started a new year and a new decade, few of us would have predicted that within a couple of months, life as we knew it would change dramatically in a bid to curb the spread of Coronavirus. As the weeks passed, and the uncertainty rose, it became impossible to avoid reports about the number of infections and enormous strain the NHS was facing.  Amongst these stories rose others of the inspiring dedication being shown by healthcare professionals across the country in helping those who were sick with COVID-19. Understandably, all focus across the world shifted to tackling the growing numbers of these patients.

Over the last few weeks, I have seen the attention rightly shift to the NHS rebuilding and recovering and have seen the plans the NHS has published on safely re-starting elective procedures and surgeries.  The campaign they have put together to get people back to the NHS is welcomed and whilst it’s impossible to deny the vast challenge before patients and our healthcare system, I think it’s incredibly important to look beyond this, to the opportunity and responsibility that we, as industry, have before us in supporting the NHS and helping them to recover and reconfigure itself.

Bringing value to the NHS

Over the past five years at Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices, we have embraced the knowledge that what we have to offer is more than simply providing our products – it’s about offering to our healthcare system value-based services and solutions that are co-created in partnership with our customers, according to their needs. Up until now, with this extra support we have to offer, we have been lucky enough to forge numerous partnerships with the NHS, to help them understand and create efficiencies within their systems while helping them improve outcomes for their patients.  
And now that COVID-19 is firmly taking centre stage, this mentality has not changed, and we have found ourselves adapting to an ever changing market to create a suite of recovery packages to enable NHS Trusts and STPs to reconfigure their services, including digitisation and optimising pathways to tackle their long waiting lists all the while ensuring that whatever solution we offer is sustainable longer term.  We will, of course, continue with our bread and butter too, ensuring the right equipment is available in the right place at the right time so that patients receive the procedures they need in these trying times. We know that increasing access to surgery for more patients is key and optimising theatre throughput and operating efficiency will allow more patients to get the care and support they need.

Tackling Obesity the pandemic in the pandemic

For example, we are currently looking into how tackle other population health challenges that have been identified as paramount to the pandemic, namely obesity in light of its implications in the severity of illness. What can we do to ensure these patients are prioritised and treated so that in the next wave of the Pandemic, we won’t see this? We must use our insights and learnings with the aim of preventing future illnesses just as much as we should focus on a cure or vaccine, again looking at the entire ecosystem of healthcare from end to end.  

And it is not just about this we should learn from – we should also listen to the lessons learnt around agility – and the fact that during this Pandemic, we have been forced to increase capacity, embrace digital, and preclude the demand on the NHS services.  How can we continue to embrace this urgency to change in future strategies so that we prevent future winter crisis’ and also in prepare for future pandemics?

Collaboration between SMEs and large companies 

It is a question that must be looked at and shared.  I am certain that there are many learnings and best practices being shared throughout the NHS, and as an industry, I feel we must do the same. Regardless of heritage or size, all of us face our own unique set of challenges as we build out our ‘new normal’. I believe that by communicating and collaborating we will be better placed to continue to innovate for the good of the NHS and patients. Supply chain, procurement, trade negotiations are just some of the areas we will all, no doubt, be asked to focus on in the weeks and months ahead. By working together and sharing how we navigate these challenges and opportunities, I believe it will make us far more agile and adaptable in the future. 

At Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices, we hope to put together a programme of mentorship and sharing of best practices with other ABHI members to foster collaborations between large companies and SMEs. I believe for the good of our industry and to ensure we can continue to serve the NHS, it’s important to share our experiences and to ensure that we have a solid foundation for supply, engagement, and innovation with the healthcare system in a post-Coronavirus, post-Brexit world. I look forward to working with many of you in the coming weeks to achieve this, together.

This article by Hugo Breda, Managing Director, Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices UK & Ireland, was first published on the ABHI website.