Test Beds

The first wave of seven Test Beds were announced by NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday 22 January 2016.

Frontline health and care workers in seven areas will pioneer and evaluate the use of novel combinations of interconnected devices such as wearable monitors, data analysis and ways of working which will help patients stay well and monitor their conditions themselves at home.

Successful innovations will then be available for other parts of the country to adopt and adapt to the particular needs of their local populations.

There are five NHS Test Beds:

  • Care city innovation – which will promote healthy ageing across a million-strong population in North East London.
  • Long term conditions early intervention programme – which will see the NHS in Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale working with Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences), MSD (a trade name of Merck & Co., Inc., with headquarters in Kenilworth, NJ, USA), Health E Research and the Greater Manchester Academic Health Science Network to help healthcare professionals better identify and support patients at risk of long term conditions using the most advanced new predictive techniques.
  • Lancashire and Cumbria Innovation Alliance (LCIA) test bed – which will see the NHS, including two New Care Model Vanguard sites, partner with Philips and a number of SMEs and social enterprises to support the frail elderly and people with long term conditions to remain well outside of hospital and avoid unnecessary admissions.
  • PErfect Patient PAthway (PEPPA) test bed – aims to create the ‘perfect patient pathway’ to bring substantial benefits for patients in the Sheffield City Region suffering from long term conditions, such as diabetes, mental health problems, respiratory disease, hypertension and other chronic conditions.
  • RAIDPlus integrated mental health urgent care test bed – which will see Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust partner with Accenture, West Midlands Academic Health Science Network, Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust, Joint Commissioning Team, The Strategy unit hosted by Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit, West Midlands Ambulance Service and West Midlands Police to offer more proactive support for people at risk of mental health crisis.

There are two Internet of Things (IoT) Test Beds:

  • Diabetes digital coacha project led by the West of England AHSN in partnership with Diabetes UK and technology companies including Hewlett Packard.
  • Technology Integrated Health Management (TIHM)a collaboration between Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and an array of health technology providers which will help people with dementia to live in their own homes for longer.

About the test bed programme

The NHS Five Year Forward View, published in October 2014, set out the intention to develop a small number of ‘test beds’. These sites will evaluate the real world impact of new technologies offering both better care and better value for taxpayers, testing them together with innovations in how NHS services are delivered.

Together with the UK Government and the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs), NHS England invited innovators from the UK and globally to express interest in deploying and testing their innovations in this flagship initiative.

There is no shortage of innovation in the NHS, but too often innovations do not have the reach or impact that would be expected in other industries. This is due to innovations being tested in isolation from the complementary NHS services needed to unlock their full potential. Innovations have also been implemented without rigour and discipline, generating little evidence about how to achieve impact in real world NHS settings.

The test bed programme provides the opportunity to combine different technologies with innovations in how services are delivered in the NHS. This might be a new service delivery model for people with dementia that combines wearable devices linked into mobile or other digital technology, implemented alongside technology-enabled housing and a lower-cost nurse or allied health professional workforce model.

The programme will support about five test beds within the NHS. We will select the most compelling innovations, offering the greatest potential value for patients and taxpayers. An important indicator of a strong proposition will be a firm commitment from NHS delivery partners to implement these innovations seriously and to test them rigorously.

In March 2015 the Chancellor announced that government would provide funding for demonstrations of Internet of Things technology in health and social care. At least one of the test bed sites identified through this programme will therefore have a focus on enabling Internet of Things technologies, with co-funding available for UK-based innovators. More information on the Internet of Things approach is contained in the prospectus.

The process for selecting test beds

In a second phase, the AHSNs, with the support of the national bodies, will bring together leading innovators with potential test beds. These will be local groups of commissioners and providers, including NHS providers from all sectors: primary, community, acute and mental health. The objective of this phase will be to catalyse partnerships between innovators and NHS bodies to implement combinations of new technologies with innovations in how NHS services are delivered.

Following this ‘matchmaking’ period AHSNs and national bodies will encourage the development of joint proposals for testing and evaluating innovations that will improve care and offer better value for money. The strongest proposals will be designated as national test beds, and will be supported through a combination of national sponsorship; assistance with implementation barriers and a limited amount of investment to cover the start-up costs of NHS bodies supporting the implementation of test bed innovations. However, we expect innovators to invest as well; for example, to cover the costs of the new technologies themselves. It is important that the value proposition of innovations put forward for testing is strong enough to stand on its own merits rather than be continuously supported by government subsidy.  Funding will be agreed at a later stage in the process, on a case-by-case basis.

Programme timeline

Activity Date
Open for expressions of interest 26 March 2015
Innovator event 21 May 2015
Application deadline 12 June 2015
‘Matchmaking’ events July 2015
Formation of partnerships Summer 2015
Partnerships finalised Autumn 2015
Designation of test beds By December 2015

How to apply

The application process is now closed.

Further information

For further information about the programme, see our frequently asked questions. Alternatively, you can email the team at england.innovation@nhs.net

Links to further work and information: