This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 8/2/2019

The UK medical equipment market was valued at around $10.7 billion in 2018.  It has a strong foundation of approximately 2,500 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. A large number of multi-national companies, including many of the leading U.S. medical device manufacturers have head offices or subsidiaries in the UK. The sector is also supported by firms offering associated goods or services, such as legal or regulatory expertise, R&D facilities and logistical services. As a significant percentage of domestically produced medical equipment is exported, the country has a large import market making it very receptive to new and innovative international technology. 

The largest purchaser of medical equipment, 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.  Within the largest of the four administrations, NHS England, there are around 191 general practitioner-led (GP) clinical commissioning groups (CCG’s), which will receive combined funding of approximately two thirds of total NHS budget ($95 billion) in 2018/19 to plan and commission NHS services for local patients; 10 ambulance trusts; 60 mental health trusts; and 152 acute hospital trusts.  Most medical equipment procurement is carried out by the acute trusts which spend an average of $6.6 billion on clinical supplies, including medical equipment, 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 health sector is considerably smaller and funded through health insurance, NHS referrals or self-pay patients. 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 such as HCA Healthcare, Circle Health, BMI Healthcare, Nuffield Health and Ramsey Healthcare.   Medical device suppliers are encouraged to explore opportunities in the above segments, for example through the procurement teams of private health providers, as well.

Financial pressures will continue to influence purchasing decisions by NHS trusts over the coming year.  However, it’s widely understood that investment in new equipment is an essential component of providing efficient, quality care.  The government has demonstrated a commitment to the uptake of innovative technology through the work of agencies such as the NHS Academic Health Science Networks .  The sector will also focus on trying to determine the potential impact of the UK’s departure from the European Union (October 2019) on the existing regulatory environment (medical device regulations, clinical trials, intellectual property etc.), free movement of goods, and workforce etc. 

Leading Sub-Sectors

Leading sub-sectors for local companies include orthopedic equipment, hospital hardware and single use devices. The U.S. is a leading supplier of diagnostic, dental, orthopedic equipment and high quality wound care products to the UK.
The best sales prospects for U.S. manufactured medical equipment are expected to be in the following areas: assistive technologies; electronic monitoring equipment; home care technology; cancer care technology, rehabilitation equipment; and diagnostics.



The NHS is a large and competitive organization that has a constant need for new products and services. In the UK, it is mandatory for all public sector organizations to advertise their procurement opportunities worth over £10,000 ($12,588) on Contracts Finder.  Firms can also register on the Supplying to the NHS Procurement Portal to receive updates on contract opportunities. 

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

Under the ‘Any qualified provider scheme’ (AQP) NHS patients with certain medical conditions, treatment or care requirements, have the choice of using the services of a range of approved public or private providers. These services, regardless of the provider, remain free at the point of delivery to patients.  A provider must be licensed by the healthcare regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), before it can provide services.  AQP contracts are advertised on the New Contracts Finder web site.  (Type AQP into the keyword search box).

Although the private segment is smaller, opportunities exist for companies to supply private hospital, residential, and nursing facilities with equipment.

Web Resources

Industry Events
The Healthcare Show co-located with The Residential & Home Care Show, The IPC and Patient Safety Show, and
Digital Healthcare Show
June 26-27, 2019
Excel, London
Health and Care Innovation Expo
September 4 -5, 2019
Manchester Central, Manchester

Naidex (disability and rehabilitation equipment)
March 17-18, 2020
NEC Birmingham

Neurological Rehabilitation Convention co-located with
Dementia, Care & Nursing Home Expo, Home Care Expo and CareTech Live   
March 17-18, 2020 & September 15-16, 2020
NEC, Birmingham & Excel, London

Med-Tech Innovation Expo
April 1-2, 2020
NEC Birmingham

Government Departments
Department of Health and Social Care
NHS Scotland
NHS Wales
Health and Social Care Northern Ireland

Procurement Opportunities
Tenders Electronic Daily
Contracts Finder
NHS Supply Chain

Trade Associations
The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA)
Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI)
British In-Vitro Diagnostics Association (BIVDA)

For further information, please contact:
Cheryl Withers
Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service
Tel: 011 44 20 7891 3471

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting

More Information

United Kingdom Healthcare Trade Development and Promotion