Amazing innovations over the past 70 years

1st June 2022

As we celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this weekend, our Chief Executive, Nicola Hutchinson, reflects on the medical breakthroughs and innovations throughout the Queen’s reign.

The NHS was created in 1948, just four years prior to the Queen’s Coronation, and over the last 70 years we’ve seen huge advances in healthcare technology and innovations. There are far too many to mention but undoubtedly one of the biggest innovations was the introduction of MRI scanning.

From a regional point of view, I continue to be amazed by the innovative health ideas which are helping to improve patient care, and I am proud that the AHSN NENC contributes to this through our work, including our Bright Ideas in Health Awards.

Now in its 18th year, the annual awards celebrate the achievements of individuals and teams working within the NHS, industry and academia, who have risen to the challenge of telling us how, and where, they believe that the services provided to patients can be improved, either through a technical innovation or through better service delivery.

Over the last 18 years there have been countless innovations that have been recognised and celebrated within our region, and some have even influenced national priorities. For example, many years ago, in fact predating the AHSN NENC, an innovation was submitted to the awards for the identification of people with the genetic condition, familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), and optimising their treatments to reduce the likelihood of them experiencing a cardiac event. We are delighted that this is now a fundamental component of the national AHSN Network Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Programme. Our FH work is a perfect example of a locally borne innovation that was nurtured, adopted regionally, before being disseminated across England through the regional AHSNs.

This year the Bright Ideas in Health Awards will be launched in September, and more information will be announced soon.

The role of digital technology is without a doubt having a transformative effect on the NHS today, particularly as we look to the future beyond the pandemic.

The fantastic thing about innovation is that it can happen any time and in lots of different ways, and our Innovation Pathway supports individuals and teams no matter where they are in the journey. We work together with the NHS and the wider health and care sector to identify unmet needs and facilitate the development of the right innovations to meet these challenges.

As part of our digital transformation work we’ve launched our free Digital Champions education and mentorship programme, designed to develop and enhance opportunities for digital innovation within primary care. Digital Champions is a free 12 month programme for staff working in dentistry, optometry, pharmacy and general practice who want to inspire others to embrace digital technology.

We are also working alongside Healthcall, who have developed new technology which aims to prevent health issues from going undetected for people living with severe mental illness (SMI). The technology allows healthcare professionals to conduct Annual Physical Health Check-Ups with people living with SMI in the comfort of their own homes or in a setting where they feel most comfortable.

Every day, innovation is happening around us and it’s amazing to see how technology is making a difference to people’s lives!