The UK is good at developing new medical technologies, but bad at making them available to patients, a draft version of a government report says.
One of the areas the consultants analysed was scanners
The study blamed the centralised way the NHS was run for failing to make the most of breakthroughs in areas such as scanners and ventilators.
Other countries where doctors were more involved were much quicker, it said.
UK firms were particularly good at developing orthopaedic and diagnostic equipment.
The UK medical technologies industry is worth £5.5bn and represents 3% of the global market.
Equipment is mass purchased by the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency, although trusts are also able to buy individually.
The Department of Trade and Industry commissioned consultants Arthur D Little to look at a broad range of equipment, including ventilators, joint and spinal implants, artificial skin, diagnostics, radiotherapy and medical imaging.
The report has been handed to government officials but has not been published, but a draft copy seen by the BBC is critical of the way the NHS operates.
It said doctors, who are only involved in evaluating a product at hospital level in the UK, should be more involved in purchasing.
And it also said the cost and administration burden of clinical trials was too great.
The consequences of such a system were that other countries were able to take more advantage of technologies developed by British firms.
Rory Carroll, of the Association of British Healthcare Industries, said the report confirmed what the industry had "anecdotally known for some time."
"We in the UK are excellent at developing some of the world's best new treatments, but terribly slow at actually seeing the benefits through to our own patients.
"The [political] parties will be talking a lot about waiting lists and choice over the next few weeks or months.
"However, the way to treat people more effectively and get better value is to embrace technology and adopt newer, more efficient treatments, far quicker than the NHS does at the moment."
The Department of Trade and Industry refused to comment, saying it was not a final version.