On the front page of Tuesday’s Times (subscription required) and Independent there were two stories about the Innovation Scorecard. You may not know what this is, but the Scorecard is a new system the Department of Health will be introducing in the coming weeks.


It will be used to measure how well different parts of the healthcare system are performing in using the latest medicines and technologies. This is important because as it stands, there is considerable variation across the country in what medicines patients can access

So in one part of the UK, a person may not be able to receive treatment for a particular kind of cancer (even though it has been approved for use by the NHS) because their local health provider is not prepared to fund it. Yet just a few miles away another patient will be granted use of exactly the same medicine. This is the postcode lottery at its cruellest. 

I am hopeful that the Innovation Scorecard can highlight those parts of England where patients are not able to access medicines. This is important because if we can identify which parts of the country are not providing medicines to patients, we can then start to look at the barriers to access and how we can remove them.  In short, the Scorecard could be a very useful tool to drive healthcare improvements in the UK.

On a final point, I would like the Innovation Scorecard to have a particular focus on new medicines and technologies.In the UK, we don’t simply have a problem with regional variations; we also perform poorly in terms of how many new medicines overall reach patients compared with our European counterparts.  Consider for instance that in the UK the use of new cancer medicines is 33 per cent lower than the European average. My vision for a successful Scorecard is for it to not only make the post code lottery a thing of the past, but also help drive innovation in the NHS more generally and bring us up to speed with other developed countries.

Stephen Whitehead
ABPI Chief Executive

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