These days, it seems, the NHS is never out of the headlines. Like other countries, the UK faces a number of challenges – social, political, financial and scientific - as it strives to deliver a world class healthcare service that is both affordable and sustainable. Whilst there is considerable debate over the future of the NHS, there appears to be a welcome consensus on the importance of innovation within the Service and the need to encourage those who work in it to come up with new ideas. Only recently, innovation returned to the parliamentary agenda when, on 11 June 2015, Labour peer Lord Wills led a debate calling on the government to encourage innovation by NHS England.
Since the conception of the "2023 challenge" two years ago, NHS Innovations South East (NISE) has been closely involved in what is essentially a "call to arms" to young NHS inventors in the Thames Valley. We were delighted last year when, once again, we were appointed by the Thames Valley and Wessex Leadership Academy (TVWLA) to work with them on the assessment of the initial innovations and the subsequent nurturing of the innovations and mentoring their inventors during the early stages of their projects.
This year's finalists at the recent May "2023 challenge" awards ceremony have now joined the ranks of a special few who have been selected to develop their innovations to their full potential. Our congratulations therefore go to
We look forward to working with the finalists.
The 2023 Challenge is a relatively new initiative conceived by Dr Alexander Finlayson and Dr Edward Maile who, together with TVWLA, launched the competition in 2013. As is almost invariably the case with new innovation initiatives, the organisers had much to do in a relatively short time and with limited resources yet sought to promote a high quality initiative. We were delighted when, because of our track-record on supporting innovation within the NHS – particularly across the south east - we were appointed by TVWLA in 2013 at the very beginning of the project to closely assist the TVWLA team with the development, design and implementation of the 2023 Challenge programme. The stakes, inevitably, were high. Get it wrong and the initiative would have limited impact – but put the right infrastructure in place and things could fly.
Some of the winning projects from that first 2023 Challenge are now being rolled-out across the region, improving services for patients and helping those delivering them through economies and / or efficiency savings.
In 2015 the 2023 Challenge scheme was extended, and now reaches out not only to young doctors in the Thames Valley but also to trainee healthcare professionals from a range of other healthcare disciplines. Once again NISE assisted with the development of the various entries and a fresh batch of eager finalists are now working hard on innovations that address real healthcare needs in the region and have the potential to deliver better patient care.
Speaking about the Challenge recently, Dr Tony Hill of NISE said:
“The 2023 Challenge seeks to harness fresh and creative thinking from healthcare professionals in training across the Thames Valley area. These are applicants who want to make a real difference to the delivery of future NHS services. NHS Innovations South East is proud to be supporting the 2023 Challenge and helping to bring ideas into reality.”
The next chapter of the 2023 Challenge is yet to be written. Meanwhile, we at NISE continue to assist healthcare inventors throughout the south east, either by working with NHS stakeholders and individual inventors to protect, develop and market specific innovations or through innovation-awareness activities. Our workshops help staff understand and appreciate the value of innovation, whilst our leadership-training courses for management help them to understand what it takes to promote and implement winning strategies and programmes around innovation in a healthcare landscape.
Or, as NISE Chief Executive Dr John Stedman puts it "Innovation within the NHS is not just about commercialising an idea; it's about knowing the process and understanding the implications of implementing such ideas in today's landscape, whether that be on a local, regional or national basis. The challenges are many, but we believe our knowledge and experience in this area is where we can and do make a difference."
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