The head of the ABPI has said he understands that the health service must save money, but wants to create new partnerships to help this happen.

Writing in the Guardian’s professional network Stephen Whitehead, chief executive of the ABPI, said: “Within the changing NHS landscape, it is essential efficiency measures are made and budgets are stretched further, while providing better treatments and quality of care to patients.”

But he said that these challenges could only be overcome within a healthcare system that is “built on real partnerships between the NHS, academia, the voluntary sector, the industry and patients”.

Partnership is a key issue for Whitehead, and he has been working hard to ensure that the NHS sees the industry as an integral part of the health system, rather than just a provider of medicines.

The ABPI has recently forged strong links with the NHS Confederation, which represents managers is the health service, and have had had several joint conferences to champion the benefits of working together .

Whitehead said: “Partnership working can also now be seen between the government and our industry as we try and improve the UK's performance in getting the newest medicines to patients.” He said that traditionally, the UK has ‘lagged behind other European counterparts’.

But because of joint-working between the ABPI and the government, the UK now has the ‘Innovation, Health and Wealth’ review, which will see the Department of Health and pharma companies co-operating to improve access to medicines.

This publication, which obliges local formularies to carry NICE-approved medicines, and will allow some drugs to enter the market without need later-stage testing, was penned by the DH and Whitehead’s successor, Richard Barker.