100 of the brightest medics now driving innovation in the NHS

The NHS has recently appointed its hundredth clinical entrepreneur, NHS England’s Medical Director announced at Expo today.

Speaking at the ‘Partnerships in innovation session’, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh and Professor Tony Young, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Innovation, heralded the shift to the implementation phase of the unique joint venture with industry to give innovators in the NHS the space and support to develop their ideas to improve patient care.

Under the training programme, launched at last year’s Expo and with the support of Health Education England, junior doctors whose innovative ideas could bring big improvements to health services are being supported by NHS England and Health Education England to bring their new devices and technology to market.

The programme, which is the largest of its kind anywhere in the world, recognises that some of the most innovative ideas are lost to the NHS, and to the country, because the aspiring doctors who have and develop them aren’t given the freedom and flexibility within their training and clinical obligations to scale them up. Previously, therefore, talented doctors had little choice but to leave the NHS to fully pursue their innovations.

50% of the junior doctors appointed to the programme, which allows them to build supported clinical entrepreneurship into their medical fellowship training, had left the NHS. They are now back in the NHS and in training – demonstrating a ‘brain gain’, according to Tony Young, reversing the traditionally-seen brain drain.

Patients will benefit from access to cutting edge new technology, systems and clinical practice, while taxpayers will reap the rewards of new medical innovation start-ups remaining in the country, rather than going abroad.

More than 300 junior doctors expressed interest in the programme following its launch, and following interviews 100 are now being carefully matched with mentors from key partners including AstraZeneca, whose UK and Ireland President, Lisa Anson, joined Bruce and Tony on stage to discuss the benefits of the scheme. Other partners include Verily, Microsoft, Medtronic, JnJ, McLaren, Janssen, Optum, Olympus, MSD, Leo Pharma, Pitch@Palace and the Princes Trust.

Now that the cohort have been appointed, a number of events will take place around the country to provide support to the clinical entrepreneurs to develop contacts and their ability to secure investment and buy-in for their innovations from health bodies such as CCGs and hospital trusts. Training will also include courses and bite-sized study in starting and running a business, regulation and governance.

Over the coming years, it is envisaged that the scheme will be rolled out to nurses, midwives and allied health professionals, to harness the knowledge, skills and experience of all England’s clinicians.