Ottobock - Helping patients get microprocessor knees

Microprocessor knees give people with above the knee amputation far greater stability and efficiency in their movement. Ottobock are one of the world’s leading producers of microprocessor knees. PB Consulting worked with Ottobock to ensure that NHS England gave patients access to this life changing technology through the specialised commissioning process. Following the campaign, NHS England now have a commissioning policy that gives widespread access to microprocessor knees. The campaign developed political support for patient access to innovative technology by highlighting their benefits versus the standard technology.

Microprocessor knees are cutting edge technology that allow amputees to do more, walk further and more often. There are many mechanical knees available to patients in the UK and all use a mechanical hinge to replace a knee joint. Microprocessor knees use sensors and intricate software to create a natural gait for patients that other types of knees do not, allowing for increased movement and activity that other models cannot offer.

Despite the effectiveness of the knees, NHS England consistently delayed the commissioning of the knees for non-military patients by limiting them to individual funding requests. This drastically limited the lives of above-knee amputees, holding them back from living full lives; being able to work, exercise, things most people take for granted. This decision lead to the partnership of PB Consulting and Ottobock.

What We Did

PBC worked with Ottobock to deliver a coalition of support that was calling for patient access to microprocessor knees. This involved reaching out to patient groups such as the Cross Party Limb Loss Group and Blesma. Working alongside patient groups helped ensure that a clear message was sent to Government, NHS, and the press. Delivering parliamentary support was critical to ensuring microprocessor knees received prioritisation. PBC identified a group of influential parliamentarians and shared information about the benefits of the technology and why patients should get routine access. Through a series of roundtables, a Parliamentary reception, and one-on-one meetings, a group of committed Parliamentary champions was formed.  These champions supported the campaign by raising questions for the Government, tabling Early Day Motions, and speaking with NHS England regarding the commissioning process.

What we achieved

After significant delays since 2013, including being placed in Level 3 of NHS England’s specialised commissioning process, microprocessor knees were commissioned by the NHS in 2016. However, this decision was threatened by the ruling that NHS England could commission Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PREP) and NHS England published a full Clinical Commissioning Policy.

PB Consulting created a programme that ensured that this decision would not affect the positive decision from NHS England, using Parliamentary and PR pressure, which ensured that despite a trial programme for PREP the full level of funding for microprocessor knees remained. The funding of microprocessor knees has been secured and the roll out of the programme to patients has begun.