United Kingdom - Country Commercial Guide
Medical Technology

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-09-22


The UK medical technology sector generates an annual turnover of approximately $30 billion each year.  It has a strong foundation of mostly small to medium-sized companies around the country, with clusters of activity in areas such as the South East of England and the Midlands. Many multi-national companies, including several leading U.S. medical technology manufacturers, have head offices or subsidiaries in the UK.  As a significant percentage of domestically produced products are exported, the country has a large import market making it very receptive to new and innovative international technology. 

The largest purchaser of medical technology, the publicly funded National Health Service (NHS), accounts for approximately 85% of the country’s healthcare provision.  It receives funding from central government but is essentially managed as four separate segments: NHS Wales, NHS Scotland, HSC Northern Ireland, and NHS England, each one delivering strategy and services both centrally and locally, through regional local authorities and other public or private organizations.  Most medical technology procurement is carried out by the acute hospital trusts which spend an average of $6.6 billion on clinical supplies, including medical technology, per year.  They have the option of purchasing goods through centralized procurement bodies or hubs, procuring products individually, or by joining with other trusts to form consortia for procurement decisions.  

The private (independent) healthcare sector is considerably smaller and funded through health insurance, self-pay patients, or NHS funded referrals.  Its strengths lie in the provision of secondary and tertiary care, fields not traditionally offered by the NHS (cosmetic surgery) or where public sector service is limited (dental care).  The acute hospital sector is dominated by a handful of major hospital groups: HCA Healthcare, Circle Health, BMI Healthcare, Nuffield Health, and Ramsey Healthcare.  There has also been the recent entry of U.S. providers Mayo Clinic Healthcare and Cleveland Clinic London.  Publicly funded adult social care services (home care, nursing, or care homes etc.) are commissioned by regional government councils however typically provided by private for profit or voluntary organizations.

2021-22 activity will continue to be dominated by major legislative reform in England and COVID-19.  The Health and Social Care Bill, which was introduced into Parliament in July 2021, will drive the push to a system that delivers care via regional integrated services, collaboration and partnerships. As it undergoes radical change, the NHS is also facing the task of tackling the vast backlog of non-urgent elective surgeries and out-patient appointments which were postponed during the pandemic   It is likely approved private providers will be able to assist with the backlog by offering some NHS funded elective care services.

Medical devices that are CE marked can be sold in Great Britain (England, Wales, and Scotland) until June 2023.  The new UKCA mark will be required from that time.  The CE mark will still be required in Northern Ireland.

Leading Sub-Sector

Digital Technology

The size, structure, and complexity of the NHS has created the need for a vast, efficient digital health infrastructure. Whilst successive governments have regarded digitalization as an essential component in tackling the social and economic challenges facing the NHS, the road to full digital maturity has not always been easy. Progress is being made, for example within NHS England the current executive has committed the organization to achieve national interoperable electronic health records.   Digital innovation also forms a key part of the 2019 NHS Long Term Plan.  These initiatives demonstrate a strong commitment to making the NHS a fully digitalized organization, one capable of utilizing the latest innovation. In addition, NHS adoption and integration of digital technology has increased significantly during the pandemic. Despite the challenges, many more stakeholders are seeing digital technology as an invaluable tool as the system adapts to the need for safer working practices and different, advanced models of care.

Whilst it’s difficult to place an exact value on the digital health sector in the UK, this is already a very well developed and competitive market that plays host to numerous leading technology companies such as Cerner, IBM, Oracle, EMIS, and BT.  The market also offers a lot of opportunities for smaller companies and developers. Potential suppliers are advised to begin by gaining an in-depth understanding of their respective industry segment and building contacts to establish what is required within the market to determine the best method of entry. It will be necessary to adhere to relevant NHS as well as broader national compliance rules or regulations. 


The U.S. is a leading supplier of diagnostic, dental, orthopedic equipment, and high-quality wound care products to the UK.  Within the digital segment there’s demand for clinical efficiency tools, innovative apps and wearables, health analytics tools, remote consultation tools, and monitoring devices that can improve clinical outcomes and patient experience across all areas of the healthcare system.

In the UK, it is currently mandatory for public sector organizations to advertise procurement opportunities over £10,000 ($13,000) on the UK’s Contracts Finder.  A new provider selection regime is likely to be implemented via the Health and Care Bill.  Firms can register on the Supplying to the NHS procurement portal to receive updates on business opportunities.

NHS Agencies, such as SBRI Healthcare, frequently host competitions in which companies are invited to bid for funding to develop innovative solutions for address particular health needs.

The NHS is a large and competitive organization that has a constant need for all types of new products and services. As it can be challenging to sell directly to the NHS from overseas, many U.S. exporters find it easier to form partnerships with well-established local companies.  This enables new entrants to take advantage of their partner’s market expertise as well as their access to buyers and other decision makers. Potential suppliers also have the option of approaching private sector healthcare providers through their procurement teams.


Industry Events

NAIDEX, Dementia, Care and Nursing Home Expo, Neuro Convention, 

Medical Imaging Convention, Oncology Convention, and Smart Home for Assisted Living

NEC, Birmingham


Medtech Innovation Expo

NEC, Birmingham


Healthcare Excellence Through Technology (HETT)

ExCel, London


Digital Health World Congress 2021 virtual conference

virtual conference


MEDICA Trade Fair

Dusseldorf, Germany


Health+Care incorporates the Digital Healthcare Show and The Residential & Home Care Show

ExCel, London


NHS ConfedExpo 

Manchester Central, Manchester

Government Departments

  • Department of Health and Social Care (England) & NHS Digital
  • NHS Scotland & Digital Health & Care Scotland
  • NHS Wales & Digital Health and Care Wales
  • Health and Social Care (HSC) Northern Ireland
  • Trade Associations
  • Association of British Healthtech Industries
  • ECHAlliance
  • British Healthcare Trades Association
  • Scottish Life Sciences Association
  • techUK

For further information, please contact:

Cheryl Withers

Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service
Tel: 011 44 20 7891 3471
Email: cheryl.withers@trade.gov