Enterprising projects scoop £650,000 in NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes Awards

Thirteen enterprising projects to improve patient care have scooped an award and a share of £650,000 in the NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes.

Winners, who got up to £100,000 each, included an SMS helpline for self-harm, a ‘microbiologist in a smartphone’, lessons on diabetes in the classroom and multi-lingual nurses in clinics.

Fifty two of the 340 applicants were shortlisted for the NHS England awards and had to present their ideas in a Dragon’s Den type pitch to a group of experts.

The thirteen winners celebrated at a prestigious award ceremony last night (February 23 2015).

Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s Medical Director who presented the awards, said: “Britain has a proud history of discovery and innovation from the smallpox vaccine, to antibiotics, to the discovery and sequencing of DNA; from the clinical thermometer, to the ECG to MRI scanners.

“This year the innovation prizes showcase local innovations to improve care through the use of technology, infection control and rehabilitation, along with new ways of helping people with diabetes. Recognition and reward of local innovations not only promotes further innovation it is an important step in ensuring improvement across our NHS.”

Applicants were asked to apply in one of seven areas: two diabetes challenges, infection control challenge, digital patient and clinician engagement challenge, use of technology challenges, rehabilitation challenge and acorn challenges.

King’s College Hospital’s project 3 Dimensions For Diabetes (3DFD) managed to reduce A&E visits by 45 per cent, saw 43 per cent fewer hospital admissions and 22 per cent fewer hospital bed-days saving £225,000 in 12 months – or £850 a patient.

The project focused on the psychological impact of living with diabetes after realising that a complex combination of depression and social exclusion was preventing some Type 1 diabetes sufferers from accessing services in challenged parts of Lambeth and Southwark.

They looked at innovative ways of bridging gaps between mental, social and clinical care by bringing together a psychiatrist, community support workers and trained volunteers with the existing multi-disciplinary diabetes team.

They will use the £50,000 award funding to take the project on a step further rolling it out to new areas and testing a new e-learning model that could allow diabetes teams to manage the early symptoms of depression in their patients.

And the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust’s Chat Health project set up an SMS helpline covering 100,000 11-19 year olds who can contact a number if at risk of self-harming.

School nurses teamed up with young people after identifying a need among the local at-risk age group to have a confidential and anonymous text-based access for help and advice.

They employed a team of software developers to create ChatHealth which provides a central, secure repository for text messages that can be monitored by a small team of trained nurses using approved guidelines and protocols.

Nurses can share information anonymously and no message ever goes un-answered as automated texts signposting alternative sources of help are available out-of-hours.

ChatHealth has proved so successful that one nurse can now handle all of the in-hours messaging enquiries from across the county. If every NHS Trust adopted a similar model, as few as 30 school nurses could handle all of the messaging from UK teens, freeing up hundreds of hours of school nurse time for other care duties.

They will use the £100,000 prize fund, provided by NHS England along with mentoring they received from the challenge sponsor Health Fabric, to look at rolling the system out and possibly to develop a dedicated ChatHealth instant messaging app or virtual clinics and self-help discussion forums via secure video-chat.

For more information and to view the winners see the NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes website.