Allied health professions urged to enter innovation awards

Suzanne Rastrick, NHS England’s Chief Allied Health Professions Officer, has called on the allied health professional (AHP) workforce to enter this year’s NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes.

The Prizes seek to encourage, recognise and reward front line innovation and drive spread and adoption of these innovations across the NHS.

“Many of my fellow Allied Health Professionals have designed new ways of increasing the quality and efficiency of care and I am calling on them to share these innovative ideas”, said Suzanne.

She compared the Prizes to the BBC’s hugely popular Great British Bake Off, adding: “Just as the Bake Off finalists came up with some hugely innovative, exciting and unique delights, our Allied Health Professionals are just as innovative with the way they tackle problems and come up with new solutions that benefit patients and the way we work.

“And just as Nadiya Hussain, the winner of the 2015 Great British Bake Off, said ‘I’m never going to put boundaries on myself ever again, I’m never going to say I can’t do it’, our workforce is just as resolute, determined and inventive.

“The Innovation Challenge Prizes recognise the solutions developed on the frontline of the NHS and spread them across the system.

“Invention has never been an issue for the NHS. Every problem has a solution, and most of these are discovered by our frontline staff. The NHS needs to harness these ideas and spread them across the system to bring about real and sustainable change that solves the wider challenges we face.”

Over the last five years, the NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes have helped to identify and spread proven innovations, promote a culture of invention and drive adoption of the best ideas.

This year’s NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes is supported by MSD, 3M, Allied Health Professionals, Academic Health and Science Networks and our National Clinical Directors. We have £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 the awards are broken down into various categories, adding: “The NHS Innovation Challenge Prize for Rehabilitation will recognise innovation where it has enabled people to return to work.

“The Rehabilitation ‘Acorn Challenge’ offers up to £10,000 for smaller ideas with potential to make a big difference for patients, such as a new care pathway, service or technology.

“If any Allied Health Professionals have designed something that improves patient outcomes and offers better value for money, something that responds to the needs of local communities, why not make an application for the prize fund before the deadline of 19 October?”

Applications should demonstrate:

  • Improved outcomes for patients and better value for money
  • New models of delivering care that flexible and responsive to the needs of local communities
  • Innovative ways of harnessing the coming innovations in modern medicine
  • Personalised services that reflect the needs and expectations of patients and their families
  • Financial efficiency and a contribution to economic growth.

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

For all the details go to the Challenge Prizes section and get regular Twitter updates on @ChallengePrizes. The deadline for entries is 19 October 2015.

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