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Britain has a long and proud tradition of leading medical innovation.
The smallpox vaccine invented by Edward Jenner is said to have saved more lives than have been lost in all wars. Sir Ronald Ross won the first British Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology for his discovery that malaria was carried by mosquitoes. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, and Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA.
Medical innovation has been, and remains, a defining feature of our country.
But despite these impressive credentials, the NHS has in the past been regarded by some innovators, both in the UK and abroad, as challenging to enter, navigate and scale across. And, as outlined in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View, state-of-the-art, cost-effective solutions and new ways of delivering care are key to improving the health of our nation.
With pressures on the NHS, including an aging population, more long-term conditions, increasing costs and constrained budgets, the demand for innovative solutions that enables better patient care while offering improved value for the taxpayer is growing fast. This is a time like no other to focus our efforts on diffusing new innovation across the healthcare system.
To build on this priority, we launched the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) in January, a programme aiming to encourage scale and adoption of innovations in the NHS.
The programme will select up to twenty healthcare pioneers along with their tried and tested innovations, both from the UK and internationally, through an open application process, scaling enrolled innovations across parts of the service to improve care and reduce costs.
NHS England and the hosts for the programme, UCLPartners and The Health Foundation, in partnership with Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) and patient groups, will work with the selected pioneers and NHS organisations to achieve this.
To bring global learning to the NHS, the programme will be supported by the International Partnership for Innovative Healthcare Delivery (IPIHD) – a collaboration including the World Economic Forum, and Professor Victor Dzau, President of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
Enrolled innovators will receive regional and national support, with access to world-class mentors that include Lord Ajay Kakkar, Lord Ara Darzi, Sir John Burn and Sir Sam Everington.
At a personal level, innovation has been a passion of mine for several years because it combines my interests and experiences in clinical practice, research, policy and entrepreneurship. It’s been a fantastic learning experience having only joined NHS England in August 2014. Collaborating on this programme has given me great insight into examples of teamwork and dedication across different departments in the organisation, from communications and media, to innovation and finance.
It is this cohesiveness that allows us to deliver quality care to patients across England amid the aforementioned pressures.
Innovation is integral to a sustainable and successful NHS, and scaling cutting-edge innovations can improve patient care.
If you think you and your innovation fit the bill please apply to be part of the NIA.
- Applications for the NIA are due February 27. The programme will start in July 2015 with a bespoke accelerator course. For more information please visit england.nhs.uk/accelerator/