ExCeL London |  24 - 25 April 2024

08 Dec 2023

Opportunities, openness and obstacles: NHS partnerships with the life sciences industry

Skin Analytics Hall: N7 - N10 Stand: A21
Opportunities, openness and obstacles: NHS partnerships with the life sciences industry
Image source: NHS Confederation - Opportunities, openness and obstacles: NHS partnerships with the life sciences industry, sponsored by AstraZeneca
Insights into member research on the interest and opportunities of the NHS partnering with the life sciences industry.

Text taken from NHS Confederation briefing: https://www.nhsconfed.org/publications/opportunities-openness-and-obstacles

The NHS is facing a time of intense operational pressures and is struggling to find the time, resource and finance to optimise delivery. Solutions and creative thinking are needed to help overcome these challenges. 

The life sciences industry has a genuine desire to improve care for patients, in addition to an abundance of expertise in pathway transformation, project management and the ability to fund staff or resources. All of this could help ease the pressures on the system and result in sustained benefits beyond the projects themselves. 

Key points

  • The NHS is under intense operational pressures and struggling for the capacity and headspace to innovate.

  • Partnerships with life sciences industry offer a solution to help create headspace and facilitate innovation.

  • The NHS Confederation conducted new research with the aim of understanding the appetite for partnering with the life sciences industry, highlighting examples of previous partnership working and inspiring members to explore the potential opportunities available to them through partnering.

  • This research identified that members see value across a range of project types from pathway transformation to knowledge sharing. Awareness, however, of the different project types varies.

  • Case studies demonstrate partnering with the life sciences industry enables projects that may not be possible otherwise.

  • There is openness to partnering among NHS Confederation members and a perception of its value to the NHS as a whole. This value, however, is seen to a lesser extent at an organisational level; more can be done from industry to demonstrate local value to NHS stakeholders.

  • Raising awareness of the diversity of projects offered by the life sciences industry, in addition to showcasing the art of the possible through sharing case study examples and investing time into building relationships, could boost partnerships with industry. 

  • Barriers exist to partnership working particularly when it comes to the handling of patient information and data, and the motive of the partnership. Examples show these barriers can be overcome.

Skin Analytics case study mention:

Skin Analytics works across various NHS sites 

To deliver a post-referral service for suspected skin cancer. 


  • The number of patients seeking clinical review of suspect skin lesions is on the increase. Given the complexity of cancer diagnosis, only 6 per cent of urgent referrals end up with a diagnosis of melanoma or squamous cell carcinoma.
  • With rising incidence there is increasing pressure on specialist skin cancer services and NHS trusts to meet cancer diagnosis timelines.


  • To address the backlog and reduce delays in skin cancer detection and treatment without additional face-to-face clinics.
  • To explore the role of AI in skin cancer post-referral pathways. 

Role of industry partner

  • Co-designed pathway in collaboration with NHS site.
  • Project management for service implementation.
  • Providing on-site user training for all levels of roles involved in the pathway.
  • Supporting change management ensuring maximum utilisation of AI effectively. 
  • Reporting and delivering key success metrics, as well as hosting formal quarterly business reviews.

Challenges faced and how they were overcome

Limited capacity to set up agreements/challenging to set up contracts: Skin Analytics has learned from previous projects to identify relevant stakeholders (eg clinical safety officers) early in the process to avoid delays in project timelines later down the line.

Information governance: Skin Analytics provides guidance and share NHS Digital guidance on how to complete DCB0160 (Clinical Risk Management) to support teams who have not done this before (cognizant they are not able to formally complete this on the NHS provider’s behalf).

The full briefing HERE: https://www.nhsconfed.org/publications/opportunities-openness-and-obstacles


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