By Max Clarke
Health Minister Lord Howe today called for new ideas to help tackle some of the most challenging issues in healthcare, as he launched the NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes scheme.
The Challenge Prizes will be awarded for achievement of specific challenges, and will range from significant improvements in delivery to major clinical breakthroughs. The value of the awards will vary and reflect the nature of the challenge and the benefit of the innovation to the NHS and its patients. All award winners must demonstrate the innovative value of their ideas to the NHS.
The first set of Challenges will involve finding innovative solutions for delivering treatment and care in the following areas:
* Earlier cancer diagnosis;
* Increasing independence for those with kidney failure;
* Better management of pregnancy;
* The reduction of MSSA and/or E.coli bacteraemias across a health economy;
* Medicines — reducing waste, increasing benefits;
* Ensuring that people seeking urgent and emergency care receive the best care at their first attendance; and
* Reducing avoidable attendances at GP surgeries and other Primary Care settings
Launching the Awards, Health Minister Lord Howe said:
“The NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes will create an open playing field; they have been shaped to recognise and reward ideas that tackle some of the most challenging areas of healthcare. As the NHS enters a period where the NHS budget will be stretched further than ever before, delivering more for less and achieving major clinical breakthroughs to transform patient outcomes has never been more important.
“Innovation is a powerful way of improving the quality of patient services. The Challenge Prizes also aim to support innovation that is already happening in the NHS, encouraging the development and spread of new ideas to improve patient care.”
An Expert Panel made up of leading medical scientists, academics, industry experts and innovators will judge applications and recommend what awards should be made. Prizes will only be awarded if they demonstrate significant added value to patients and the NHS.
Alasdair Liddell, Chair of the Expert Panel said:
“The NHS is full of brilliant people, with brilliant ideas. Our problem is that we don't always seem able to take those ideas and spread them rapidly right across the NHS. The Challenge Prize programme will help stimulate new ideas in key priority areas and ensure they are available for everyday use, benefiting patients much more quickly"
The NHS Innovation Challenges will be released on a rolling programme, designed both to encourage rapid implementation and spread of innovative projects, but also to allow for the longer timescale often required for major clinical breakthroughs.