Allied Health Professionals take up the innovation challenge

Suzanne Rastrick has praised Allied Health Professionals for their response to this year’s NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes.

NHS England’s Chief Allied Health Professions Officer got a very positive reaction to her last minute online and Twitter appeal last month for AHPs to enter the Prizes.

“I am very pleased that our ‘digital call-to-action’ encouraged an additional 60 applications – many of these coming from people who picked up the news on Twitter,” said Suzanne.

“We know there is lots of good innovative work going on in terms of designing new ways of increasing the quality and efficiency of care, and this is a chance for AHPs to get some well-deserved recognition for all they are doing.

“We all look forward to the Challenge Prize showcasing event in early 2016, which will be hosted by Professor Tony Young, National Clinical Director for Innovation, at Anglia Ruskin University.”

When the deadline for entries closed on 19 October, 210 applications had been received for the Prizes which seek to encourage, recognise and reward front line innovation and drive the spread and adoption of these innovations across the NHS.

This year’s NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes are supported by the Allied Health Professions Federation, the Academic Health Science Networks, our National Clinical Directors, MSD and 3M. There is £240,000 in prize money to be awarded across the challenges, plus tailored professional mentoring and developmental support packages from our internal and external partners, which will support the spread and adoption of the winning innovations.

Suzanne explained how the awards are broken down into five categories, adding: “The NHS Innovation Challenge Prize for Rehabilitation will recognise and award initiatives where people have been enabled to live a life they want to lead.”

“The Rehabilitation Acorn Challenge category is offering up to £10,000 for smaller ideas with the potential to make a big difference in the rehabilitation of patients.”

Other awards include:

  • The Cancer Challenge has a £100,000 award for modern, patient-focused initiatives.
  • The Best Practice Adoption award offers an ‘in kind’ prize package of mentoring and developmental support.
  • The Acorn Challenge Fund will share £50,000 amongst innovative ideas, with a maximum of £10,000 for each winner, including tailored professional support from NHS England and its external partners.

Next week shortlists of six or so applicants will be drawn up for each category. Expert panel sessions will be held in December and the Challenge Prize winners will be announced at a showcase event to be staged in early 2016.

  • Suzanne will be writing about the Innovation Challenge Prizes and other work of the Allied Health Professionals in a series of blogs in the coming weeks and months. You can also follow her on Twitter @SuzanneRastrick
  • To get updates on the Challenge Prizes on our Challenge Prizes pages or Twitter @ChallengePrizes
Suzanne Rastrick

Suzanne qualified as an Occupational Therapist from Oxford. Suzanne was the first Allied Health Professional (AHP) to hold a substantive Director of Nursing post in both provider and commissioning organisations. She became the Chief Executive of a Primary Care Trust, where a particular highlight was having leadership responsibility for delivering health resilience and health ‘blue light’ services during the Olympic sailing events held in Dorset in 2012. She subsequently gained authorisation for a large Clinical Commissioning Group, before moving to her current post with NHS England. She was appointed as Chief Allied Health Professions Officer for England in September 2014.

In 2017 Suzanne launched the first AHP strategy for England which has been recognised as ground-breaking in policy development from its use of crowdsourcing. Building on this, Suzanne published the second AHP strategy – ‘AHPs Deliver’ in June 2022. This iteration had a greater emphasis on patient, public voice and specifically the inclusion of those who may be digitally excluded along with communities who may find it difficult to connect with traditional consultation methods. The result is a national strategy crowdsourced from diverse populations for people and communities AHPs serve.

For over three decades, Suzanne has held non-executive portfolios outside of the NHS, including audit committee chair roles, predominantly in the housing and charitable sector. Suzanne was recognised as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s birthday honours list 2019. In 2023 Suzanne was awarded a Visiting Professor role at St George’s, University of London and at Oxford Brookes University.

Follow Suzanne on Twitter/X @SuzanneRastrick or Instagram @chief_ahp_officer_england