The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has launched a new partnership team tasked with building closer relationships with the National Health Service in the name of improving patient health.

Under the plans, the team will help forge solid relationships between the industry and key regional NHS figures, with the aim of helping to accelerate access to innovative medicines, address local healthcare challenges, and ultimately boost patient outcomes.

It is envisaged that, working together with the NHS, the new team will help develop regional partnership projects and share experience and best practice throughout the country, without promoting individual companies or projects.

The new team will consist of five industry experts, four of which will work with each of the four Strategic Health Clusters in England, and one of which will oversee the group's strategy.

According to the ABPI, the strategy stems from the realisation that improving health in a difficult financial climate can be best achieved by the health service and industry working closely together on common goals.

In addition, the move builds on recommendations laid out in the government's Innovation, Health and Wealth report, which commits to "dramatically improving" healthcare for patients through the faster uptake of innovative medicines, something the UK lags behind its European peers on.

Commenting on the move, Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS confederation, said he is firmly behind partnership working after witnessing first hand "how working as a team can deliver significant patient benefits above and beyond what can be delivered by any party in isolation".