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Kirstine Morris on Orthopaedic growth in the UK

The UK is home to 62 million people, of which 16% are aged 65 and above. By 2050, this will grow to an estimated 77 million. As a sizable chunk of this population continues to age a surge in the incidences of chronic diseases is also expected. This, coupled with a sustained rise in benefits provided by payers and providers is expected to boost demand for medical devices and supplies. Many manufacturers and healthcare providers are spending heavily in raising awareness through direct-to-consumer advertising, and this is further boosting the country’s demand for healthcare.

One area set for rapid growth is the orthopaedic industry. According to a new report by GBI Research market sector growth between now and 2016 will be 7.8 per cent taking the total value of the world wide orthopaedic industry to $41.8 billion by the start of 2016. In the UK alone the orthopaedic devices market was valued at $997m in 2009 and is forecast to grow by 8% annually for the next seven years to reach $1.7bn in 2016. GBI Research claims that joint reconstruction will remain the largest orthopaedics sector accounting for $22.9 billion of the total.”The market will be driven by the aging population, technological advancements in implant designs and materials which are resulting in improved durability and younger patients undergoing surgery in the future,” the report claimed.
An estimated 539,000 people reported work-related musculoskeletal disorders in the UK in 2007-08. An increasingly sedentary lifestyle coupled with increasing cases of arthritis, has led to high incidences of back pain and joint afflictions being recorded. A trend driving demand for spinal implants, joint implants and other products indicated to treat musculoskeletal disorders. Arthritis currently affects one in every five adults in the UK. In 2007, an estimated 4.4 million people were found to have X-ray evidence of moderate to severe osteoarthritis in their hands, 550,000 people with moderate to severe osteoarthritis in knees and 210,000 people with moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the hips.

Overall the UK medical devices industry was valued at £8.2bn ($12bn) in 2009. Driven primarily by an increase in the ageing and unhealthy population pool, the market is forecast to grow by 8.2% annually for the next seven years to reach £14.4bn ($21bn) in 2016. As well as the orthopaedic sector the growth will also be driven by an increasing demand for cardiovascular and diabetes care devices. The increased affordability, particularly during the last decade, coupled with rapid industrialisation has led to significant lifestyle changes among healthcare consumers in the UK, a trend that has resulted in a huge pool of patients suffering from lifestyle and work-related disorders such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
The flip side to this growth is the severe budgetary constraints that the NHS will face in the next few years. Publicly financed healthcare expenditure has contributed to most of the increase in health spending for almost a decade. The NHS total expenditure of amounted to $153bn (£98.3bn) in 2009-10. While the NHS continues to suffer from underfunding, a bigger concern is an estimated £2.6 billion ($4bn) cost savings that the NHS is expected to contribute. Consequently, the funding to NHS for 2010-11 was reduced to £102.3bn ($160bn) from the £104.6 billion ($163bn) originally planned in last year’s budget. Reportedly NHS trusts are expected to deliver efficiency savings in the range of £15 billion ($23bn) and £20bn ($31bn) over three years from 2011 to 2014. While there are growth obstacles that do not seem to leave the horizon any time soon, the fact that the underlying demand drivers remain in place, should make the UK industry stakeholders happy.

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