NHS England kicks off international search for ground-breaking patient-care innovations

NHS England’s Chief Executive Simon Stevens has issued a call for the world’s best healthcare innovations to improve frontline patient care, including in mental health services and GP practices.

The NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) has already successfully helped transform patient care across the NHS by fast-tracking the uptake of pioneering ideas, equipment and technology such as ventilation tubes that reduce cases of pneumonia and new approaches to mental health care.

NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens has now confirmed a further round of the programme which will focus on the clinical priorities outlined in the Next Steps Five Year Forward View plan including mental health, primary care and urgent and emergency care.

The initiative, supported by England’s 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) and hosted at UCLPartners, has to date helped support the uptake of ground-breaking concepts in 469 NHS organisations. The aim is to provide innovators with a package of tailored support – including access to a 2017 bursary fund totalling £240,000 and mentoring from a team of experts – in order to help their ideas gain uptake across the NHS.

NHS England has also opened a new Innovation Technology Payment system (developed from the Innovation Technology Tariff) which will help NHS Trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups to quickly spread new innovations in the medtech, diagnostic and digital sectors across primary, secondary and mental health care. It aims to cut the red tape and hassle for NHS organisations by overcoming financial and procurement barriers, for example by introducing a reimbursement for usage or centrally purchasing items.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said: “The NHS has a rich history of innovation and it is vital we are able to stimulate and quickly adopt smarter clinical approaches to improve patient care. This is why we’ve created a range of ways to ensure we can drive through innovation in all parts of the system at pace and remove any barriers to doing so.”

Sir Bruce Keogh, National Medical Director at NHS England and Chair of the NIA Programme Board, said: “Through this programme we have been able to match entrepreneurial endeavour with need in the NHS, and the consequence of that matching is that we been able to show very real and tangible benefit for patients and rapid uptake of new innovations.”

The first two rounds of the NHS Innovator Accelerator (NIA) has helped to introduce a range of innovations to the NHS including

  • 9,000 patients in Essex, Devon and Cornwall are now able to self-manage symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease using online support and more will benefit in other areas over the next few months;
  • 35 Maternity Trusts are using new-generation episiotomy scissors that greatly reduce the incidence of  devastating obstetric injuries;
  • 350 patients in Norfolk are benefitting from use of new ventilation tubes that reduce the incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia;
  • 14 hospitals and trusts are piloting and implementing a device across their critical care departments that improves patient safety by preventing the accidental injection of IV medication into arterial lines;

One of the innovations selected to join the NIA in 2016 was Serenity Integrated Mentoring (SIM), which supports service users struggling with complex mental health disorders. This collaborative model of care integrates a specialist trained police officer within community mental health teams to better mentor, encourage and support some of the most challenging, high-risk service users. Where implemented, SIM has reduced frontline emergency costs by 90 per cent, including a 50 per cent reduction in the number of service users reaching 999 level of crisis.

Sgt Paul Jennings, NIA Fellow and SIM representative, said: “Across the country there are people in crisis. In some cases, people keep going round the system, even though we try our best to help them in that moment. The NHS Innovation Accelerator is supporting me to expand this local project across the country so that we can save as many lives as possible. It has enabled me, as a police officer, to have a voice in the NHS, by providing knowledge, expertise and senior strategic level support.”

Liz Mear, Chair of The AHSN Network, said: “Mental health, primary care, and urgent and emergency care have been identified as national service improvement priorities in 2017-18. By focussing this year’s NIA call on global innovations that can address and support key challenges in these areas, we can ensure that as many patients, local populations and NHS staff can access these life-changing solutions.”

The 2017 call for the NIA launched on 14 June and will remain open until midnight on 26 July 2017.

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