Healthcare campaign

Engineering Solutions for the NHS

Our campaign aims to raise awareness of the work and value of engineers within the NHS, and the benefits to the service by creating the position of Chief Biomedical Engineer at every NHS acute Trust, similar to Chief Nurse or Chief Medical Officer.

It is estimated that by more professional and knowledgeable procurement and management of equipment, the NHS could save up to £700M each year which could then be redirected to frontline services.
Today the NHS costs the UK over £115bn a year. This cost is inevitably going to grow as we experience a changing population demographic, our life spans increase and more advanced, and expensive, treatments become available. As government continues its efforts to tighten the national budget, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the NHS to fulfil these obligations.

Engineers play a vital role in the NHS

Engineers and technicians play a vital, if hidden and undervalued, role within the NHS and the wider UK healthcare industry. Technological developments by engineers enable the diagnosis of illnesses, facilitate better treatments, can provide independent and remote monitoring of patients, and have the potential to play a huge role in relieving the pressure on stretched staff, resources and budgets.

Watch the campaign video

Key benefits of a Chief Biomedical Engineer:

    1. Patient safety: Overseeing the quality of clinical care by analysing and reporting on incidents involving medical devices, thereby helping to improve patient safety.

    2. Value for money: The National Audit Office states that value for money in the planning, procurement and use of high-value equipment, such as MRI scanners or linear accelerator machines, is not being met across all Trusts due to a lack of comparable information about performance and cost of machine use.

    3. Equipment management: The National Audit Office states that there is a lack of information and benchmarking data required by Trusts to secure cost-efficient procurement and sustainable maintenance of key elements in modern diagnosis and treatment.

    4. Calibration and validation of equipment: Currently there is a lack of consistent responsibility for this function. A recent Medical Device Equipment Alert relating to dangers of mis-calibrated scales was addressed to Risk Managers, H&S Officers, Estates Managers, Nurse Directors and Clinical Directors. It is unlikely that many, if any, of those people would have the training or equipment to calibrate even a simple set of scales. Mis-calibrations of more complex items, such as medical scanners, can result in life-threatening complications.

    5. Research, development and translation: As designers and assessors of equipment, biomedical engineers have an invaluable role working with clinicians to produce customised medical devices for individual patients. They contribute to the design, monitoring and analysis of clinical trials of new equipment, and support the translation of new products into clinical practice.

    6. Long-term technology strategy: Biomedical engineers are able to deliver a sustainable and well-defined plan to maximise patient safety, clinical safety and overall value from medical technology through understanding the needs of clinicians, patients and the wider NHS.

Campaign document

Related reports

Dr Helen Meese CEng MIMechE

Healthcare policy spokesperson

Helen joined the Institution in 2013 as Head of Engineering in Society and became Head of Healthcare in November 2015. She works to raise the profile of mechanical engineering, focusing on innovative and emerging technologies and how they impact on healthcare, both in the UK and internationally.

Read Helen's full biography

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Biomedical Engineering Association

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