On behalf of the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network I’m delighted to be sponsoring the Medipex Innovation Awards, which take place next week. Awards events such as these are a vital part of creating a culture of innovation within the NHS, as well as demonstrating to our industry and academic colleagues that the NHS is a system that stands ready to recognise and adopt new innovations that improve patient care.
By coincidence, I’ve got a little bit of experience when it comes to running innovation awards, having created and led the national NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes since 2010. The Challenge Prizes were created largely as a result of the findings of Lord Darzi’s High Quality Care for All review which identified a gap in the recognition and reward for innovators inside the NHS. Innovation Health and Wealth provided further evidence and support when it recognised that recognition and reward for innovation was one of six key barriers to the challenge of adoption and spread in our health care system.
It has been an incredible privilege for me to spend the last six years providing some evidence to support both of those important policy ideas. And of course the challenge prizes aren’t the only game in town, only recently NHS England have launched the NHS Innovation Accelerator which is now providing another high profile route for front line clinicians to be discovered. There has been a lot of learning for me and for the programme, and the most interesting question has certainly been what is more important, the reward or the recognition?
I have to admit that, when designing the first Challenge Prize programme, my expectation was that the reward, in the form of a sizeable cash sum for the host organisation, would be the main lure for applicants. And yet, from that first experience in 2010 all the way up to the present day, award winners have consistently been far more focused on using the power through recognition from the programme to effect change on an even greater level than they could previously achieve. Of course nobody says no to the money either! And winning organisations always put it to good use but, without fail, successful applicants always come back to me with one simple challenge of their own: “thanks very much for recognising my work, now what is it that you can do to help me and my innovation change the world for my patients?”.
And that is a challenge that the system should relish. A poor outcome would be to go through all the trouble and expense of recognising transformational members of staff, but then do nothing with them once the ceremony is over. Awards such as these have to be viewed as the start of a relationship and we should produce them with a developmental end in mind. One of the main reasons that the AHSN sponsors these Medipex awards is that together we are best equipped to support the winners as they look to gain greater traction for their ideas in a complex health system. It is the same reason why we are heavily involved in the national NHS Innovation Accelerator and other similar programmes.
Innovation is everyone’s business. But we don’t always provide the routes through which those with passion and creativity can engage and find support for their ideas. Award events such as the Medipex Awards are one of the best ways of identifying the talent that will be required to transform health care delivery for future generations. I hope all health care leaders in our region will encourage their staff to enter. This award scheme, plus others such as the NHS Innovation Accelerator and the NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes, can be the start of a very exciting journey for staff and organisations. Please spread the word.’