Bits and bytes, … and Brexit: From digital health and telemedicine to personalized care, this blog invites you to discover the health market in the United Kingdom and its latest trends. Join us as we delve into the pulse of this thriving market.


Overall, the UK has made significant progress in improving health outcomes and life expectancy over the years. Certain health challenges, however, remain. Although the majority of the UK population reports being in good to very good health (75.3% of men and 75.7% of women), roughly half state having a long-standing health problem.

According to official statistics, the four most common chronic conditions in the UK for men and women are allergy, high blood pressure, low back disorder and depression. GP database information reveals that the highest prevalence rates are recorded for hypertension (13.9%), depression (12.3%) and diabetes mellitus (7.1%), which constitute typical ailments of Western societies.

Among these conditions, cardiovascular diseases are a significant concern. Examples include heart disease and stroke, and these conditions contribute to a substantial burden of morbidity and mortality. Efforts have been made to promote healthier lifestyles to address this issue, including smoking cessation campaigns, initiatives to increase physical activity as well as improved dietary guidelines.

Health market

At the heart of the healthcare system in the UK is the free, publicly funded National Health Service (NHS). The NHS differs from many healthcare systems in other parts of the world as it is funded through taxation rather than health insurance and is based on residential status, rather than nationality. This means that individuals do not have to pay directly for most medical treatments. Exceptions are medications as well as eye and dental care, which are subject to co-payment.

In the UK, healthcare is also a devolved matter. Under this decentralized structure, each country has its own public health service, comprising NHS England, NHS Scotland, NHS Wales and Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland (HSCNI). This means each country operates an individual health service adapted to the population’s needs.

The first point of call for patients in each NHS system are General Practitioners (GPs), who provide primary healthcare. If needed, they also refer patients to a specialist and/or a hospital. For acute cases, urgent treatment centers are also offered by GPs with extended office hours, in addition to the accident & emergency departments found in hospitals.

Inpatient care in the UK is provided by NHS hospitals, most of which are publicly owned. Although attempts are always made to prioritize urgent cases, waiting times can vary widely for certain procedures and treatments, with sometimes excessively long waiting times for elective procedures, which has been the subject of much criticism.


The mental health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been significant, with cases of anxiety and depression more than doubling compared to pre-crisis levels. But greater awareness and reduced stigma have improved access to mental health services and led to a stronger focus on mental well-being in healthcare policies.

This is also reflected in the growing demand for integrative and holistic healthcare, with complementary and alternative therapies, mindfulness (such as yoga), nutrition (including supplements), and lifestyle interventions, such as increased exercise, being increasingly sought after in conjunction with traditional medical treatments.

Driven further by the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand, awareness and adoption of digital health technologies and telemedicine have rapidly increased. Virtual consultations, remote healthcare services and digital health monitoring tools have become more prevalent, enhancing accessibility and convenience.

This trend has been facilitated by the growing popularity of health-tech devices and wearables, such as fitness trackers and smartwatches. These tools empower individuals to monitor and manage their health, providing valuable data, such as blood pressure and activity levels, for healthcare professionals to perform valuable assessments and analyses and also contributing to another megatrend: personalized care.

The British government is also significantly increasing spending on research and development over the next few years, with life sciences and digital technologies targeted as “high-growth sectors.” The dedicated growth package comprises £ 650 million (about € 760 million) as well as measures to simplify drug and technology marketing authorizations, regulatory changes and support for digital technologies and artificial intelligence (“AI”) as well as investment in research and development in infrastructure and critical areas of AI. These measures are all expected to create an attractive market environment for manufacturers and providers of digital health tools and services.

Over the years, there have been many structural changes to the NHS. Many private companies and charities have become more involved in running services to increase NHS capacity. All services are publicly funded, and the government is ultimately accountable. This is not always well received with the population, with some evidence that a large proportion of the public oppose such involvement.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also highlighted existing issues within the healthcare system. These include enduring disparities in health outcomes, inadequate funding for health and social care, and a shortage of healthcare professionals compared to many other affluent nations. These factors make the country susceptible to sudden crises like Covid-19, as well as growing waitlists for elective procedures.

Legal and regulatory conditions

Since leaving the European Union (EU), the UK has established its own regulatory system for medicines and medical devices, such as X-ray machines, insulin pumps and even digital health apps. All companies planning to sell a medical or in vitro diagnostic (IVD) device in the UK need to register their product with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), with different rules applying in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

For medical devices intended to be sold in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), there is a transition period during which a valid EU CE marking certification is accepted as conformity assessment evidence; however, all manufacturers must eventually meet the UK-specific requirements for UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) marking certification. In Northern Ireland, CE marking will retain its validity.

When a medication has been awarded a license from the MHRA that confirms it is safe and effective, it can be made available in the UK to buy privately at a price set by the pharmaceutical company that manufactures it. After establishing the pricing of a medication, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) undertakes an evaluation of the drug’s effectiveness and its cost based on available evidence. NICE then provides recommendations on whether the NHS should fund the medication, specifying the applicable conditions and symptoms. Following NICE’s funding decision, the medicine should be accessible to patients through the NHS within a maximum of three months.

Government plans are also underway to implement rapid, often near automatic sign-off for medicines and technologies approved by other trusted regulators, such as the United States, Europe and Japan.

From 2024, the MHRA will also implement a “swift approval process” for the most impactful new medicines and technologies, such as “cancer vaccines and AI therapeutics for mental health.”

EU-wide and international health market

Currently, a transitional period is in place to accept CE-marked medical devices on the British market, which will expire on June 30, 2024. A phased approach is being taken to establish the independent regulatory framework that will apply in the future in order to ensure the safe supply of medical devices and medicines to the UK.

The EU has taken measures to provide manufacturers with additional time to obtain certifications for specific medical devices under the EU Medical Devices Regulation (EU MDR). These measures include extending the validity of certain CE certificates.


Internationalization is an important aspect to optimize the marketing of products and services in different markets. It allows British hospitals and medical practices to establish themselves as attractive service providers for patients from overseas, providing them with a distinctive competitive advantage.

By facilitating the exchange of information with other countries, such as by translating scientific publications and training materials, British healthcare providers can also leverage best practices from various global regions. This, in turn, enhances the overall quality of care.

Translations are essential throughout the entire lifespan of medical devices, drug products, dietary supplements, and fitness and lifestyle items. Expert translators play a crucial role in this process, requiring extensive experience, specialized knowledge and linguistic proficiency. Their task is to adapt the content and intended meaning of the text to suit the specific target audience, whether they are experts, laypersons, authorities or others. Additionally, they must ensure that the translation meets the specific requirements of the text type and communication channel.

Specialized translators play a crucial role in ensuring accurate translations of regulatory documents for authorities, adhering to the specific conventions for such texts. Given the significant investment of time and money in the product, any delays in time-to-market would be very costly. By having skilled language experts by your side, you can avoid these obstacles and make sure your market launch is successful.

When communicating directly with consumers and patients, translations must present complex scientific concepts in an easily understandable manner. This requirement is particularly relevant for platforms like patient portals, educational websites and informational flyers. In these cases, the content aims to inform and persuade potential buyers without appearing excessively promotional.

To meet the needs of the target market, it may be beneficial to employ specialist translators with a marketing background who can provide a more creative translation tailored to the specific market, based on a comprehensive briefing. This service is known as “transcreation.”

Important languages for the UK market include, apart from English as the official language and its various dialects, different regional indigenous languages such as Scots and Ulster Scots as well as the Celtic languages, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, which is a de jure official language in Wales, and, as a revived language with few speakers, Cornish. In 2021, the most common migrant language was Polish, with 611,845 native speakers, followed by Romanian and Punjabi (471,954 and 290,745, respectively). The latter is of particular significance given the UK’s imperial history and immigration from former Commonwealth countries.


Staff shortages continue to burden the healthcare system, with Brexit exacerbating the issue because many healthcare professionals have left the UK. This constitutes a major concern, and efforts are under way to simplify recruiting qualified staff from abroad.

Despite numerous strategies, programs and reports looking at how UK healthcare can improve and standardize digital transformation, change has been sluggish and fragmented. A survey rated the current state of digitalization as “slow, expensive and challenging.”

However, given the planned financial and structural support measures in the field of life sciences and digital technologies, this market is likely to grow significantly over the coming years and provide attractive opportunities for companies that offer products and services in the digital health sector.


autor_eurotext_100Author: Eurotext Editorial Team

We explain how internationalization works, provide tips for your translation projects and outline some of the technology and processes used. We also report on current e-commerce developments and cover a range of language-related topics.