NHS roll out gadget for cluster headaches

The technology release launches the delayed MedTech Funding Mandate that accelerates uptake of innovative treatments and therapies.
By Sophie Porter
11:38 am
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Credit: gammaCore

gammaCore, a handheld device used to alleviate cluster headaches, is now availble through NHS England following successful trials.

The roll out of the medical device is supported by the Medtech Funding Mandate, which fast-tracks innovations in the NHS. This mandate is part of the NHS Long Term Plan and came into effect on 1 April 2021.

WHY IT MATTERS

gammaCore works to relieve pain by delivering low-level electrical currents that block pain signals when held against the neck.

Cluster headaches affect approximately 11,000 people in the UK, mainly men who begin experiencing them in their 30s or 40s. These types of headaches set on quickly and can last between 15 minutes and 3 hours, occurring as many as eight times a day.

Patients will be able to use gammaCore regularly to relieve headaches or prevent their onset by using the device when they feel one coming on. It will be particularly beneficial for one in 20 sufferers who do not respond to more traditional treatment methods such as painkillers like triptan or oxygen.

THE LARGER PICTURE

The NHS Long Term Plan was launched in 2019 to foster innovation in the NHS. One of its primary focuses is digital transformation, including the acceleration of uptake of innovative medical devices through the Medtech Funding Mandate policy.

The policy assists the development and delivery of technology which is effective, affordable and will deliver material savings to the NHS. Among others, it will support HeartFlow, which 3D models heart patients’ coronary arteries, and technology to test for pre-eclampsia in pregnant women.

The mandate, which follows the Innovation and Technology Payment programme, was initially consulted on in December 2019 but the launch was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ON THE RECORD

NHS medical director Stephen Powis said: “While they may be small, these devices will make a huge difference to people who suffer from these debilitating headaches – relieving painful symptoms and allow people to go about their daily lives as normal. The NHS Long Term Plan committed to making cutting edge treatments and technology available to save and improve lives. This is the latest example of the NHS testing the latest tech and rolling it out at speed for patients across the country.”

Matthew Whitty, director of innovation and life sciences for NHS England, said: “Despite the pandemic, we remain committed to delivering on the ambitious commitments set out in the Long Term Plan to support the latest innovations and allow patients to utilise them across the country, as quickly as possible. The gammaCore device will provide life-changing benefits for thousands of people and it is just one of a number of technologies that are being mandated by the NHS.”

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