Failing to innovate would be a disservice to patients – Sir Bruce Keogh

Bringing the Future NHS Stage to a close, NHS England Chair Sir Malcolm Grant chaired a session with Life Sciences Minister George Freeman MP and Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh discussing the imperative the NHS faces to embrace innovation, and the concerted work going on across the NHS to do so.

Discussing the power that the NHS has in this field, the Minister said: “The NHS is an engine of innovation across society, and not celebrated enough for it. The NHS does something profound – it takes a lot of risk out of life and allows people to be creative and entrepreneurial.

“The challenge is can we unleash the power of this extraordinary organisation as a test bed for innovation – not paying retail price, but being a partner in developing innovations.

“We’re rapidly changing from a 20th Century model of health to a 21st Century model – from doing to patients, to empowering people to be active healthcare citizens. Health will be the biggest industry in the 21st Century, and we have to make sure that our workforce is productive and that we create real economic value from our health system.

In an endorsement of the many programmes being driven by NHS England and its partners in this area, the Minister said: “The government is completely committed to supporting your vision in the 5 Year Forward View; it’s crucial if the NHS is to continue as a beacon of world class healthcare that it is also the ultimate engine of innovation. If we can achieve this it will be a win, win, win; a win for patients, for the health system, and for the UK’s economy.”

Moving on to the Test Beds programme, which held a matchmaking event for local NHS leaders and potential innovators at Manchester Town Hall today, the Minister said: “To really drive innovation at scale, you can’t do it from the top as Ministers; we have to find geographies at scale who can develop solutions which suit them, but which can also be exported. Industry has risen to this challenge – they know we can’t afford to buy innovations off the shelf, and they want to partner with us to design new models of care.”

Following the Minister, Sir Bruce Keogh said: “Our NHS is tax funded but shares a common problem with any health system across the world: how you maintain and improve care in the face of rising expectations, changing demographics and constrained resources. The catalyst that helps you balance all this is innovation.

“To fail to innovate, to fail to adopt, is a massive opportunity cost for our health services and a disservice to patients, because the inevitable consequence is that people will go without the type and quality of care that they deserve.

“When I trained as a surgeon there were 4 types of breast cancer – there are now 40, and 50 types of diabetes. Knowing that, and therefore making sure treatment is tailored to the exact one, means better results for patients.

Expo has been extremely exciting, and has really set the tone for the energetic change to come.”
Rounding off the session and closing the conference, Sir Malcolm Grant said: “Innovation is the lifeblood of any successful industry – industries come up on the wave of innovation, but if they fail to continue innovating then they fail.

“Innovation is central to the goals we have over the next few years, and is woven through the 5 Year Forward View. We don’t innovate for the sake of innovation, we do it for the sake of change and improvement across the health system.”