I work for the Scottish Health Technologies Group (SHTG). We provide advice to NHSScotland on which health technologies offer the best treatment for the people of Scotland. Health technologies can be anything from a wound dressing to a hip replacement. We do not look at medicines; these are reviewed by the Scottish Medicines Consortium.

There are a huge range of healthcare interventions available from mobility aids and diagnostic devices to the use of robots in surgical procedures. One in 25 of us has an implant that helps supports our health and there are over 500,000 medical devices on the market, with an annual UK spend of £11 billion.

We look at five key areas when we produce our advice: clinical effectiveness, safety, cost-effectiveness, patient and social aspects and context. Health and care providers are required to consider our advice during decision making on patient treatment.

SHTG is made up of representatives from NHS boards, clinical and professional networks, academia, national procurement and the Scottish Government. We also have four volunteer public partners, who help represent the views of the Scottish public. We are based within Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

A main piece of my work at SHTG is to raise awareness with patient groups about how they can get involved with our work. There are many ways to get involved:

  • peer reviewing our advice statements
  • sending in submissions to explain what it is like for patients to live with a particular condition
  • proposing a topic for SHTG to produce an advice statement on, or
  • becoming a member of our new Patient and Public Involvement Advisory Group, which will be set up later this year.

So far, no patient group has sent in a topic for the SHTG to consider. I am keen to change this, as there may be countless health technologies which could benefit patients which are not being used routinely across Scotland. Patient groups have the power to change this by submitting a SHTG topic referral form. Full support will be given to any patient group who would like to submit a topic referral, from myself and the SHTG team.

The development of our new Patient and Public Involvement Advisory Group will be a fantastic opportunity for patient groups to directly influence the decision making at the SHTG. The group will provide a place for patient groups to engage with the SHTG and give advice about how to strengthen our relationships with the third sector. It will also ensure that the SHTG hears the voice of patients, carers and members of the public, and takes account of their views in our advice to NHSScotland.

If you would like to find out more about SHTG and how to start getting involved in any aspects of our work, please get in touch with me at james.stewart4@nhs.net or on 0141 227 3257.