Integrated GP-led memory service lands top prize in NHS dementia challenge

A new integrated dementia service, run by a consortium of 162 GPs across 41 practices in Staffordshire, has landed the top award in the NHS Innovation Challenge Prize for Dementia.

The Prize, run in collaboration with Janssen Healthcare Innovation, was set up this year to identify and reward innovative approaches for dementia, one of the biggest problems the NHS and UK society face today. The Dementia Challenge is part of the wider NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes programme and also the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge.

The judges awarded the top prize of £80,000 to Staffordshire’s ‘Memory First’ dementia initiative for its pioneering joined-up approach to care which has cut diagnosis times from two and half years to four weeks and led to major improvements in patient experience.

Two other schemes were awarded prizes of £35,000 each: the Greenwich Advanced Dementia Service (GADS) which is helping people in the borough remain in their own homes for longer and the Early Intervention Dementia Service (EIDS), in Worcestershire, which has already helped 2,000 people in the county get a more timely diagnosis.

Dr Ian Greaves who led the development of the Memory First service said: “With an ageing population the old models of dementia care are no longer sustainable.  Carrying on in the same way is simply not an option.

“Keeping the patient under the responsibility of the GP, supported by secondary care expertise when needed, is a paradigm shift.  The engagement of all 162 GPs across the 41 practices in the area was key.  We highlighted dementia as the area in which we could jointly have the greatest impact on patient care and the health economy and formed a single entity to make this happen, adopting a single, coordinated approach.”

Professor Alistair Burns, National Clinical Director for Dementia, NHS England said: “All of our finalists demonstrate innovative ways of providing integrated dementia care that improves things for patients and uses resources efficiently.  Most encouragingly they are sustainable models for dementia care with the potential to spread more widely across the NHS, making a difference to the lives of thousands more people and helping us tackle one of the major health issues we face today.”

Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health said: “With the G8 Summit in London on 11 December, it’s important that innovation sits at the very heart of the way health and care services work. We have seen some inspiring examples demonstrating how care for people with dementia can be transformed. Dementia is one of the biggest challenges we face both nationally and internationally, and I am delighted that the UK is leading the way forward for innovation to deliver better care.”

Two entries were highly commended: a Plymouth dementia pilot which has helped to halve the number of hospital admissions and enabled more patients to be treated in, or close to, their own homes and a dementia ‘one-stop-shop’ in the West Midlands which has cut the length of nursing home stays for dementia sufferers with complex needs by an average of 10 months.

The NHS Innovation Challenge Prize for Dementia was made possible thanks to the support of Janssen Healthcare Innovation, an entrepreneurial team within Janssen Research & Development, LLC (Janssen).

It was designed with the input of over 90 members of the dementia community, including healthcare professionals, patient groups, and carers whose overriding conclusion was that a more integrated approach could radically improve quality and outcomes. The prize therefore aims to recognise and reward forward-thinking approaches to joined-up care for the estimated 800,000 people in the UK with dementia.

Marco Mohwinckel, Partner, Janssen Healthcare Innovation EMEA, stated: “We congratulate all entrants to this year’s Dementia Challenge and have been inspired by the passion shown by the NHS teams for innovation through partnership.

“The high quality, evidence-based submissions underscore the commitment across the UK

to transform dementia care and improve the lives of those affected by this life-altering condition. We are honoured to be the first industry partner for the NHS Innovation Challenge programme and to be able to support and seed innovation in dementia care across the UK.”

Entrants to the NHS Innovation Challenge Prize for Dementia were required to demonstrate how they were working as a seamless multidisciplinary team, with at least one other organisation from a different sector, and to provide evidence of the positive impact the integrated service was having on the lives of patients and their carers.  An expert independent judging panel also took into account:

  • Improved clinical outcomes
  • Value for money
  • Dissemination – whether the idea was easily transferable
  • Timescales – whether changes were achievable within a reasonable timescale
  • Innovation – that the idea, service or product was new to the NHS or social care, or could be applied in a new way.