Innovative grant winners

£100k funding boost to kickstart innovative health and care projects

The Health Innovation Network have announced five winners of the Innovation Grants award, in partnership with Health Education England. The five NHS trusts who won the awards will benefit collectively from a £100k funding boost, to kickstart innovative health and care projects. This funding has been split into grant packages for each trusts project, ranging from £10,000 to £30,000. The network received 32 applications in total for the award.

The winners of the award worked on projects, such as artificial intelligence rehab for musculoskeletal disorders, a self-care app for patients with inflammatory bowel illness, and digital urine screening for chronic kidney disease. 

The funding will allow the trusts to tackle some of the key health challenges such as managing mental health, and supporting people with long term conditions. It will give the winners a chance to deliver the initial results through a pilot, to validate a wider-roll out of their projects.

This grant winners each spoke of the importance of the varying projects they would now be able to invest in:

 Dr Joel Parker, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Oxleas NHS FT said: “Fun and Fitness is a community sports development programme to support adults with learning disabilities to increase physical exercise and improve physical and mental health outcomes.

“The project is a bespoke community sports development programme within the Royal Borough of Greenwich that will be formalised into a manual to be shared with services across south London.”

Rishi Goel, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Lead for IBD Services, at Kingston Hospital NHS FT commented: “This funding means we can pilot a project that, for the first time in south west London, will enable patients with inflammatory bowel disease to self-manage their care and communications with the clinical team via a digital interface

“Surveillance and follow up of IBD patients is crucial to ensure disease remission and to reduce disease progression. Flares ups can be unpredictable, making the traditional model of regular outpatient follow up inefficient and less responsive to patients’ needs when they are acutely unwell.  

“When an IBD patient is having a flare-up, it’s essential for them to understand what they can do to help themselves. Self-management gives them an active role in their healthcare, empowering them to take control of their condition and is part of a broader shift in health towards shared responsibility.”

Kate Bramham, Consultant Nephrologist and Clinical Senior Lecturer, at King’s College Hospital NHS FT said: “We will be improving the health of individuals living with diabetes and other long-term conditions using a digital urine screening tool for early identification of chronic kidney disease (CKD).

“This condition is increasingly common and there is growing recognition that early identification and management is critical in delaying progression of the condition, as well as related complications. In addition, CKD can easily go undetected until it’s at the advanced stages.” 

Professor Heather Jarman, Consultant Nurse in Emergency Care, at St George's University Hospitals (SGUH) NHS FT; and Ben Wanless, Consultant MSK Physiotherapist, at SGUH explained: “This will transform the management of musculoskeletal acute back and leg pain in the Emergency Department through the digital self-management app.

“The pilot of the project will prescribe the app to patients discharged from St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Emergency Department, with lower back and leg pain.”

Nimalini Ajith, Joint and Bone Health Physiotherapist, at Public Health, and the Royal Borough of Kingston; and Nicky Wilson, Consultant Physiotherapist, at King’s College Hospital NHS FT said: “It will deliver personalised exercise rehabilitation in Kingston and Southwark using AI provided via a co-designed accessible app.

“This project aims to improve musculoskeletal health outcomes, promote healthy ageing and reduce demand on the NHS. It will pilot an AI-rehabilitation in people's home's, local community venues, and in public swimming pools, leveraging community assets to support people.” 

The winners will be funded and supported by the Health Innovation Network over a 12-month period. Winners were selected through a rigorous selection process by expert panels.

Lesley Soden, Programme Director for Innovation, at the Health Innovation Network, said: “The impact of Covid-19 on our NHS services means that we need to look at different ways of working to improve health and care for people in south London. This funding is crucial to kick-start innovation projects to test out different innovations and new ways of partnership working.

“NHS teams often struggle to find substantial funding to pilot new ideas in real-world settings to demonstrate the kind of results they need to support a wider roll out across regions, and potentially nationally. 

“We are so pleased that our previous grant winners in 2020 have gone on to deliver innovative health and care projects, with a handful being nominated for national awards this year.”

Main photo from left to right: Kayley Martin, IBD service administrator, Cath Saraiva, Gastroenterology Line Manager, Dr Rishi Goel, Consultant Gastroenterologist & Lead for IBD services, Nicole Guererro, IBD Nurse Specialist.

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