Patients get better care thanks to innovative healthcare staff

Published on Friday, 03 June 2011 09:58
Posted by Matthew Abbott

Frontline NHS staff and other healthcare professionals who come up with innovative ideas to give better patient care are getting their schemes funded thanks to the Department of Health’s Innovation Challenge Prizes – the first winners of which have been announced today (June 3rd)

The awards support plans to give all NHS staff the power and freedom to innovate to deliver better patient care.

All the winners have proven that their innovation can improve patient care and deliver savings for the NHS. They were all developed to tackle the problems staff saw their patients facing in day-to-day treatment.

The winning ideas are:

  • Dialysis at home – developed by Manchester Royal Infirmary to allow patients to have dialysis in their own homes – this is more convenient for patients and saves the local NHS £16,430 per patient every year on average.
  • Cytosponge – a new pill that runs into a sponge – a simple new way to test for oesophagal cancer that costs just £25 per test compared to the £400 cost of a traditional endoscopy. This was developed by the Cambridge Medical Research Council Cancer Unit and Addenbrookes University Hospitals.
  • Scriptswitch – a computer programme used by staff at NHS Bristol to share information on nutritional supplements prescribed to patients between hospitals and GP surgeries so that they can identify patterns and prescribe more efficiently leading to projected savings of £156,000 per year.

Health Minister Lord Howe said:

“All NHS staff have the power to improve services for patients – we want to give them the freedom to use it.

“We need to support innovation in the NHS, not suffocate it. In every hospital, GP practice and clinic we need to ensure innovation can flourish by supporting clinicians to develop new ways of thinking and delivering care to benefit patients and the NHS.

“Innovation is essential to help the NHS modernise by delivering more for less – improving the quality of care for patients whilst at the same time saving money.”

Dr Sandip Mitra, who leads the renal team at Manchester Royal Infirmary, said:

“Manchester is proud to have a highly skilled team which enables and empowers patients to regain control of their lives leading to a higher life expectancy, greater independence, fewer medications and a less restrictive lifestyle on dialysis. This award will inspire the team to continue its efforts to improve patient experiences on dialysis and support other units to establish home haemodialysis programmes.”

David Coyle, a patient on the Manchester home haemodialysis programme said:

“For me, the best solution is carrying out my home dialysis overnight . This completely frees up my working days giving my life back to me. I can also do longer sessions which give me a better quality of dialysis.

“The result is a very noticeable increase in energy levels and general well-being. The quality of life I enjoy now is as close to having a real kidney as it is possible to get and I strongly recommend it to all haemodialysis patients.”

The Innovation Challenge Prizes have been developed to ensure the NHS continues to be recognised as a world leader in the development of innovative techniques and technologies by rewarding those who help pioneer and modernise new innovations.

The NHS Challenge Prizes are now looking for the next big ideas from NHS staff, organisations and partners. More challenges can be found at The closing date for new applications is 14th August 2011.

Source: Department of Health

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