Acorn Challenge Prize winners

The Acorn Challenge is supported by NHS England and seeks to recognise and reward small ideas that have the potential to make a big difference to patients.

Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust will receive £10,000 from NHS England to support further rollout of their bespoke Llama Safe secure sample labelling system. The system securely labels blood samples linked to the QR codes all patients already have on their hospital wristbands. The clear, consistent labelling reduced sample rejections by 90% in A&E, and further reduced the chances of any patient being put at risk of receiving the wrong blood type in a transfusion.

Barts Health NHS Trust will receive £10,000 from NHS England to roll out training in techniques that reduce waits, improves success and reduces complications in treating women who need surgery to ensure all non-viable pregnancy tissue is removed following miscarriage. Use of the Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) method at the Trust means the procedure can now be done under local anaesthetic in an outpatient clinic, rather than under general anaesthetic in an emergency theatre. The new way of working is not only cheaper overall, but eliminates the further trauma and uncertainty of emergency surgery for women who have suffered miscarriage.

The Attenborough Surgery in Bushey, Hertfordshire, will receive £10,000 from NHS England to roll out their point of care system of finger-prick blood testing patients for levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a biochemical marker of bacterial infections. The test gives results within four minutes, and helps GPs and nurse practitioners reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescribing for coughs while making sure patients with nasty infections are identified at the earliest opportunity. The test has resulted in a significant reduction in antibiotic prescribing.

Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust will receive £10,000 from NHS England to further develop its 3d-printed device that links to a smartphone app, that helps patients and their clinicians identify the early signs of peripheral neuropathy – nerve damage affecting fingers and toes – and track changes in the condition. Early diagnosis helps doctors begin appropriate treatment to avoid irreversible injury. Peripheral neuropathy affects 10% of over-55s, and is linked to common illnesses like diabetes and cancer. If it is identified at its earliest stages, doctors can help patients avoid irreversible injury. The Trust hopes to combine other patient data into the portal to give a more detailed picture of the patient’s condition.

Rehabilitation Acorn Prize winners

The rehabilitation Acorn Challenge seeks to recognise and reward small ideas that have the potential to make a big difference to patients.

Imperial College NHS Trust will receive £10,000 from NHS England to further trial and developgripAble, a  lightweight, electronic handgrip, that interacts wirelessly with a standard PC-tablet, enabling the user to play bespoke computer games that encourage the repetitive, task-based exercise which is the only recognised way to improve arm function after a stroke. The software used with gripAble not only assesses the effect of a person’s movement, but also understands which muscles are activated, and when, so they can work together with clinicians to agree unique plans and goals.

The Helix Centre, a collaboration between the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London, based on-site at St Mary’s Hospital, will receive £10,000 from NHS England to developBauble, a different platform for rehabilitation following brain injury based on repetitive tasks to recover arm movement. Bauble combines a 26-sided block containing an accelerometer with a digital app (mobile and desktop) that contains game-like exercises patients can do at home and sends data to clinicians.

Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has been awarded £7,000 from NHS England and £2,500 from Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network to develop its digital tools – and improve internet access – for people with long term mental health problems. Their three-pronged Digitally-enabled rehab and recovery programme supports the digital and social inclusion of service users through free public wifi in rehab settings, free devices as appropriate for individual patients, and use of uMotfi – a self-management and shared decision making mobile application to enhance the clinical relationship and support recovery. The programme is designed to address particular issues experienced by people experiencing mental distress in relation to issues such as hearing voices, feelings of paranoia and vulnerability to exploitation.

Rehabilitation Acorn Prize – highly commended

Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust will receive £5,000 from NHS Englandand £5,000 from Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network to further roll out its Fibromyalgia Guided Self-management Programme across England. The clinically-proven model was initially developed by the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases (now part of the Bath trust), is led by Allied Health Professionals (AHP) and is focused on supporting patients to manage their own condition. The franchising model allows local flexibility, with robust governance and infrastructure support, and facilitates patient access to the latest research trials.

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust will receive a total of £5,000 from NHS England and Yorkshire and Humber AHSN to develop the Gardner leg device – an invention to allow people who sit for long periods due to immobility to completely take the weight off their feet – reducing their chance of developing pressure ulcers. The device is made of a light plastic which slightly elevates the legs, leaving the heels and ankles free. It automatically adjusts to different leg lengths and heights of chair, and also allows patients to perform ankle rotation and dorsiflexion exercises to improve circulation.

Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust will receive £5,000 from NHS England and £5,000 from the English Cricket Board for its Promoting Physical and Mental Health through Sport programme.  People with severe and chronic Mental Health conditions are well documented to have considerably poorer health than the general population, so the team worked together with the Hertfordshire Disability Cricket association, to develop a taster and training programme for inpatients, including actual participation, as well as included spectating, umpiring or coaching/mentoring. Engagement has been so positive that it was possible to set up a team to play in a league in North Hertfordshire.

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will receive £5,000 from NHS England, plus mentoring support from North West Coast Academic Health Science Network, to develop its Workplace of the Future: The Rehab Resource into a wide programme of clinician-developed technology and training, coupled with a reservoir of skilled people supporting transitions to new ways of working.